BLHS hoops teams prepared for tough second-round battles
Next stop: Tonganoxie.
Both Basehor-Linwood basketball teams defended their home court impressively this week in the first-round of sub-state and are moving on.
The boys thumped St. James Academy 71-39 on Monday night. The girls soundly defeated Piper, 43-34, on Tuesday.
The final two rounds of the sub-state tournament move to Tonganoxie, this year's host city.
The No. 4 seeded girls will get what they have craved since late January: a rematch against Tonganoxie, the No. 1 ranked 4A girls team in the state of Kansas.
THS is the top seed at sub-state, as well.
Earlier in the season, the Lady Bobcats had two chances to upset the then-undefeated Lady Chieftains in the span of three days.
On Jan. 23, the Lady 'Cats led by eight points at halftime on the road only so squander the lead late in the second half and lose 42-32. On Jan. 26, at home, BLHS lost 26-24 and had an open look at a three-pointer to win it at the buzzer.
"I can't wait," Bren Koontz said. "It was kind of funny. For two seconds, in the locker room, we were all like yeah, we beat Piper.
"And then everybody kind of looked at each other and said, 'Tongie's next.' Everybody started pounding on the lockers. It is really exciting. Twice now we have lost to them by a couple points, so I think third time's a charm."
BLHS coach Tami Holthus echoed those sentiments.
"I would say based on the tone in the locker room, we're looking forward to the rematch," Holthus said.
What did the Lady 'Cats learn in the first two games?
"That we are tough enough to get it done," Holthus said.
Basehor-Linwood isn't worried about having to play its second-round game on its opponent's court.
"Our motto is 'cross the line'," Holthus said. "One of the things that we have crossed the line to this season is fearing no gym."
Playing the No. 1 ranked team in the state on its home floor in the second round of the playoffs isn't an enviable task.
The Lady 'Cats are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Tonganoxie, however, and they take comfort in knowing they went toe-to-toe with them on two previous occasions.
"They are a man-to-man team," Holthus said. "They play very physical. They have good size and athletic ability. It's going to be a war."
The win against Piper was the first sub-state victory for the BLHS girl's program since 2001-2002, a season when the team finished 10-12.
This season marks the first time the Lady 'Cats will finish with a winning record and a sub-state victory since 1996-1997. BLHS finished 13-10 that year and lost in the sub-state finals to Baldwin.
The BLHS boys, seeded second in the bracket, will take on the Baldwin Bulldogs. Baldwin is currently 16-5, and is coming off a 70-62 opening round victory over sixth-seeded Tonganoxie.
"At this time of the year, anyone can win any game," BLHS boys coach Mike McBride said. "I have a lot of confidence in my team, obviously, but you have to go in knowing that you can get beat and go home. We're playing well and we are healthy. We have had the same starters for all 21 games, not many teams can say that."
McBride said Baldwin's offense resembles BLHS's. The Bulldogs will try to work the ball to the baseline and score on high-percentage shots. They like to run isolation plays for their premier offensive players. Baldwin plays mostly man-to-man defense, but will mix in a 3-2 zone, as well.
"We need to really tighten up on the little things," McBride said. "We're not running our inbounds well. We need to continue to work on our man-to-man, and understand what (Baldwin) will do on offense."
With Piper possibly looming in the championship round, could the Bobcats get caught looking ahead?
"I don't think so this time," McBride said. "We struggled with that in the regular season. I haven't thought about Piper for four or five days. If we get there, we get there. We are focusing on Baldwin. (Piper has) got a tough game in the second round. We may not even play them."
The top-seeded Pirates will play Bishop Ward Thursday, with the winner advancing to the sub-state championship game to take on the victor in the Baldwin-Basehor-Linwood match-up.
For all teams at this point in the season, any game could be their last.
"We will either come out and understand that we have to win, or we will go home," McBride said. "Honestly, the way we played in the second half (against St. James Academy), coach's talk about how one game carries over to the next. I would have to say the nerves won't be as bad. We are prepared for a battle."
The BLHS boys will play Thursday evening in Tonganoxie. The girls will play Friday night in the same gym.