Four from Basehor-Linwood find way onto all-tourney teams
The tide continues to turn at Basehor-Linwood High School.
Despite the school's boys and girls basketball teams finishing fourth and sixth, respectively at their annual home invitational -- both with 1-2 records -- the Bobcat Invitational's all-tournament teams included a pair of players from each squad.
Senior guard Austin Knipp was joined by junior forward Tanner Swafford on the boys team, and juniors Cassie Lombardino and Brooke Sanders were selected to the girls team.
For both BLHS squads, the inclusion of two of their own was as much a tribute to the individual team as it was to the individual athletes.
"They would be the first to tell you that their teammates make them who they are," BLHS boys coach Mike McBride said of Knipp and Swafford. (Without their teammates) they would not bee able to do what they do."
Still, what they have done is mighty impressive. In leading the Bobcats to a first-round victory and into the semifinals, Knipp and Swafford continued to be a deadly one-two punch. The two combined for 35 points in the Bobcats' 63-33 victory over Holton in Round 1. From there, they continued to pour in the points during hard-fought losses in the next two rounds.
For the tournament, Swafford averaged right around 20 points per game and also chipped in with more than eight rebounds per contest. In doing so, he shot 70 percent from the field. Knipp was not far behind, as he averaged 15 points and 3 steals per game while shooting better than 55 percent from the floor.
According to their coach, the best thing about the two Bobcats' tournament performances was the way in which they racked up big numbers.
"I think the most impressive thing about what they are doing is that everything they are getting is coming out of the offense," McBride said. "Neither player forces anything and they both understand their strengths and weaknesses."
The very same thing could easily be said for the two Lady Bobcats who found their way onto the 10-player all-tournament team.
Focusing exclusively on her play in the paint, Lombardino averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per game during the tournament, while shooting 54 percent from the floor. Her signature game came in the opener against St. Teresa's, when she scored 16 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots.
"We've got to continue to find ways to get the ball inside to her," BLHS coach Tami Holthus said.
In a different role, Sanders landed on the squad for her scoring, defense and leadership qualities. Sanders proved to be a jack-of-all-trades in the tournament, averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists per game. She also shot 11 for 15 from the free throw line, a focal point of the BLHS girls in recent weeks.
Holthus said being named to the all-tournament team was a special honor for her one-two punch and was representative of the hard work put in by the entire team.
"This should bolster the confidence of those two young ladies," Holthus said. "Particularly because it shows that other coaches recognized their contributions to the team."