BLHS ends streak, beats up Bonner Springs
On the opening tip-off of last Friday's game between Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood, Braves senior Chris Callahan tapped the ball to a streaking Anthony Brown, who caught the tip in stride, exploded to the basket and was fouled after sinking a layup.
After getting a stop on the defensive end, BSHS senior Matt Caquelin knifed his way into the lane for a layup to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.
In less than 30 seconds Bonner Springs had a four-point lead and all the momentum in the world for another blowout in a long line of runaways between the two rivals.
But that was as big as the Braves' lead would get.
Basehor-Linwood tied the game at 4-4 on a pair of baseline jumpers from junior Tanner Swafford and the two teams battled back and forth for the next couple of minutes. A bucket by BSHS junior LT Lee with 5:12 to play in the first quarter gave the Braves an 8-6 lead and that proved to be their final lead of the game, as Basehor's Matt Fanning drained a three-pointer at the 5-minute mark and followed it up with a steal and a layup 15 seconds later. From there, Basehor-Linwood put the pedal to the floor and ran the Braves out of the gym on their way to a 62-56 victory, the team's first over Bonner Springs since 1995.
"It's about freakin' time," said BLHS senior Austin Knipp, who led all scorers with 20 points. "I just think we all came out ready to go and we were determined to win this game."
That much was obvious in the first quarter as the Bobcats built a 20-11 lead after one thanks in large part to an 8-for-9 shooting performance from the floor. Fanning was a perfect 3-for-3 in the first quarter and the Bobcats committed just one turnover.
Things only got better from there, as the Bobcats opened up the second quarter with a 14-3 run that bumped their lead to 20 points at 34-14. The lead settled at 17 by the break and the Bobcats hit the locker room with a swagger.
"For a half, I think we played as good as anybody in the state," BLHS coach Mike McBride said. "Bonner Springs is still just another game to me, but I know it means a lot to these kids and I'm awfully proud of them tonight."
On the opposite bench, BSHS coach Ryan Hull was left with nothing but confusion and disappointment -- particularly about his team's first-half defense and intensity.
"I guess our guys didn't believe they could shoot," said Hull of the Bobcats. "This just in: They can shoot and they shot very well."
For years, the battle between the Bobcats and Braves has been plagued by the Bobcats' inability to get over the mental block of believing they can play with Bonner Springs. But on Friday night, the Bobcats took a huge step forward in eliminating that obstacle.
"I'm pretty sure this win will boost our confidence," Knipp said. "But you could've asked me 20 times and I would've never guessed it would go like that."
The second half was as much a formality as anything else. Basehor-Linwood's lead hovered around the 15-point mark for most of the next two quarters before the Braves cut it to single digits on a three-pointer from Brown with 3:34 to play.
The most notable performance in the second half belonged to Bonner Springs senior Willie Wilson, a seldom-used post player who provided the team with a spark by playing with fire and scoring seven points in the loss.
"Willie stepped up," Hull said. "He was our spark. He was everything we wanted out of him and everything we need out of him."
The Braves cut the lead to as few as five down the stretch but ultimately ran out of time and fell to 3-5 on the season. The Bobcats, meanwhile, held on and improved to 6-2 on the year, 3-0 in Kaw Valley League play and ran their winning streak to six in a row.
The strong fourth quarter by the Braves and shaky fourth quarter by the Bobcats sent the teams in different directions as they left the floor.
"Our defense in the second half was a lot better," Hull said. "And that's because our guys gave better effort. That's all we need out of these guys is effort. How you end the game is always the lasting feeling and I feel good that we came on strong at the end and finished like that."
McBride, on the other hand, was slightly concerned about his team's inability to finish off its opponent.
"This was the second game in a row that we didn't finish," McBride said. "We have to learn to play a full 32 minutes. I think part of tonight was we wanted to beat them so bad and we sort of tensed up a little down the stretch. But a win is a win when you're going from 6-15 to where we are now."
Knipp led the Bobcats in the scoring department and finished with five rebounds and four assists. Swafford added 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting and Fanning finished a perfect 5-for-5 on the night for 13 points.
Brown led the Braves with 16 points and the team got 14 points from Caquelin and 10 from Lee.