Bobcats soar to 7-0 in KVL play
After blowing out Tonganoxie by 18 points last Tuesday night, Basehor-Linwood High School boys basketball coach Mike McBride knew his team would have to be ready Friday night.
The Chieftains were game, jumping to a 15-10 first quarter lead, but ran out of gas in the second half, losing 63-53.
"It was huge," McBride said of the win. "We knew they were going to come after us. I was just glad the kids listened to me, because we won an 18-point game, and you come back the next game and think, man, are the kids going to take these guys seriously?
"There is a reason they are 8-3. They didn't play their best game Tuesday night. It is huge for our morale that a team came in and gave us their best shot and we still won."
It was an especially sweet night for McBride, who earlier in the week welcomed an addition to the family. Breckin Christopher McBride was born at 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
As for his team, Austin Knipp finished with a team-high 20 points.
"It was a good challenge," Knipp said. "It is really hard to beat the same team back-to-back."
In the beginning, Tonganoxie didn't look like the same team that had been blasted off of its home court 72 hours earlier. The Chieftains controlled the tempo early, and pushed their lead to six, 27-21, with 1:30 left in the first half.
"They came out ready to go," Knipp said. "They were getting offensive rebounds. They played tight defense throughout the game. We just started hitting our shots."
The Chieftains couldn't stave off BLHS in the second half when the offense began to show productivity. The Bobcats began the third quarter on a 9-2 run to seize the lead, 34-31. The rest of the third quarter was spent swapping the lead between the two squads.
The BLHS offense wasn't able to break out of its rut until the assistant coaches suggested a change in the offensive strategy.
"My coaching staff talked me into running our fourth man-to-man offense, which got us going," McBride said. "They did a great job. That was a coaching-staff win."
The Chieftains had given special attention to the BLHS attack on Tuesday evening. Their preparation showed Friday night. They played a man-to-man defense, while doubling Swafford and Knipp when they got the ball.
The Bobcats' fourth man-to-man offense, however, involves spreading out the defense. The five players begin around the perimeter and create wide open space to drive the lane.
Center Jacob Schierbaum positions himself around the post and chooses when best to crash the lane looking for a rebound. The team looks to find openings in the defense, as the other four players set screens for each other.
After the change, Swafford reeled off four straight buckets, and the BLHS offense never had another problem.
McBride said his assistants were instrumental in the game planning, as he was busy during the week with his newborn son.
BLHS led 43-40 through three quarters. THS hung around in the fourth quarter, but could not withstand excellent Bobcat free throw shooting. Point guard Chandler Schaake went 4-for-4 from the stripe in the final two minutes to seal the victory. Schaake was 9-for-9 on the game. The sophomore ended with 16 points and four assists.
"The referee came over and asked if (Schaake) was a junior or senior, and I had to tell him that he is a sophomore, and he was like, 'Oh, wow,' McBride said. "This is probably the best game he has played in two years.
"He really controlled the whole game. He made great decisions. He really stepped up tonight. I'm definitely going to give him some credit. I haven't done that much, because we are hard on our young guys early."
The Bobcats shot 21-for-23 from the free throw line, good for a 91-percent mark.
"We come in every morning before games and shoot free throws," Matt Fanning said. "It really helps in the game. It pays off."
Tonganoxie, conversely, shot an anemic 6-for-17 from the stripe. McBride couldn't understate the importance of the free throw differential.
"Obviously it was huge," he said. "I attest it to conditioning and it being something we have worked on. We have played in three or four games like this, and we have shot free throws well in all of them."
The Chieftains' Gabe Belabrajdic led all scorers with 21.
Tanner Swafford finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
While the Bobcats were nearly perfect from the free throw line, they shot only 35 percent from the field, 19-for-54.
"In both games, we didn't shoot the ball very well," McBride said. "I knew they were going to double team Swafford and Knipp. Austin and Tanner will pull through that. Our energy was good. Tonganoxie got tired and started to turn the ball over; I think we wore them down a little bit."
As the clock ticked down on another Bobcat victory, the Basehor-Linwood student section had fun at Tonganoxie's expense. After the Chieftains won the earlier girls game, the THS student section broke into a rendition of the Atlanta Braves' Tomahawk Chop.
After the boy's victory, BLHS students went into a prolonged, sarcastic Tomahawk Chop of their own.
The Bobcat players didn't notice the back-and-forth theatrics between the rivals cheering sections.
"We don't notice the crowd," Fanning said. "We just play."
The Bobcats improved to 9-4 on the season. They are a perfect 7-0 in Kaw Valley League play.