BLHS boys riding high after new attitude leads to 3-2 start
The last time we saw the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team, it was running Mill Valley off the court on Dec. 15, 49-37. The Bobcats entered winter break with a 3-2 record against a brutal early season schedule.
"We are one basket away from being 4-1," coach Mike McBride said. "I don't know too many 4A schools that have faced a tougher schedule. We played three 6A schools and two 5A schools, and none of them were a cakewalk going in.
"The record is good, but I think the most surprising thing was that I knew what we had coming in, but mentally we had some things to conquer. We had been letting up mentally and letting teams beat us. The question going in was, 'Were we going to step up and be a team?'"
If the first five contests of the season are any indication, McBride has his answer. The coach, however, has concerns about how the newfound success of the program will be handled by the players.
"Are we going to try and win every game or are we going to relax because people are patting us on the back because we have been winning?" McBride said. "I don't know. I am letting the kids decide. I keep waiting for them to slide. Once they do, we are going to do something about it. We're leaving it up to the kids."
The Bobcats knew going into the season that the starting lineup was strong. The question was depth. But, so far, McBride couldn't be happier with the evolution of his bench.
"I knew our starters were going to work hard every day, but at the beginning of the season we knew we had to develop a bench," McBride said. "We have done that."
The hardworking backups have carved out niches and played solid defensively. The coaching staff knows it will need more offense out of the role players before all is said and done.
"What are you going to do if Austin (Knipp) and Tanner (Swafford) don't score? We have other kids that haven't fulfilled their potential on the offensive end," McBride said.
The Bobcats' defense thus far has been stifling. McBride has worked on getting the offense to catch up.
"We are going to have to score more," he said. "More kids will have to score more points. Defensively, I think we are as good as anyone around. We have played five tough games and our defense has played spectacular."
McBride pointed to BLHS's most impressive defensive showing, allowing only 49 points in victory against Bellevue, Neb., the No. 7 ranked team in the highest class in Nebraska. Bellevue is a run-and-gun team capable of putting up huge numbers against inferior defenses.
"Defense is going to keep us in it," McBride said. "I am not convinced yet that we can score enough to go all the way."
The Bobcats will take on Perry-Lecompton on Friday in Basehor. The Kaws have a brutal week returning from break. They first traveled to Mill Valley on Wednesday before turning around 48 hours later to take on a rested BLHS team.
"They will try to play hard-nosed defense," McBride said. "They have a couple of good, young post players. Looking at the box scores, they have been having trouble scoring."
The Bobcats pulled out a three-point win last season against the Kaws, but McBride still recalls the beating BLHS took from PLHS a couple of seasons ago.
"They whipped us pretty good," he said.
Prosperity in Kaw Valley League play will prove vital to the team's eventual success.
"We are 2-0 in the league, and we need to win every game that we can," McBride said. "We need to get that one on Friday. They are going to be scrappy."
While preparing for the next segment of the team's schedule, McBride is looking at things with a historical perspective.
"We are trying to stop the slide (of the program)," McBride said. "We are a team that will continue to improve. We haven't come close to peaking at all. If we don't relax and feel good about ourselves, we will see what happens."