Lady ‘Cats eliminated by rival Chieftains
The Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team entered Friday night in Tonganoxie facing a difficult set of circumstances. Having already twice come within minutes of upsetting the heavily favored Lady Chieftains this season, the Lady Bobcats would be given a third opportunity on their opponent's home floor in the second-round of sub-state.
This time the Lady Chieftains were ready, blasting BLHS 57-34.
"I am disappointed for the kids, but not in the kids," coach Tami Holthus said. "I told them in the locker room that this doesn't change the fact that we had a very good season."
Tonganoxie shot 50 percent, 23-for-46, from the field. Basehor-Linwood, conversely, shot 29 percent, 13-for-45.
"I think we came out playing timid," center Cassie Lombardino said. "I think we played scared throughout the game. I thought we were ready to play, but the way we played didn't show it at all. The other games we took the fight to them, this time they took the fight to us."
The team was still pleased with the strides the program has made over the last year.
"We're disappointed because we didn't come out quite like we wanted to," senior Amanda Vitt said. "We still took a big step this year by having a winning season and winning our first sub-state game, so I am happy about that."
The Lady Bobcats stayed with Tonganoxie in a hotly contested first quarter. At the buzzer, BLHS was down 10-7. It went downhill from there, with the Lady Chieftains outscoring BLHS by a combined 36-11 in the second and third quarters.
"That has happened to us before and we have battled back," Vitt said of the second quarter deficit. "We just couldn't score. We couldn't get anything good to happen."
The home-court advantage may have served as an intimidating force to the young Lady 'Cats. The gym was largely packed with red-clad Chieftain fans cheering on the number-one ranked team in the state.
"If you're going to be a champion, you have to be able to play on the road and play through all of that," Holthus said.
Lombardino had 10 points, two assists and six rebounds for the Lady 'Cats. Vitt had six points on a pair of three-pointers. Brooke Sanders had five points and three steals. Bren Koontz had five points, two rebounds, and two steals.
"It was pretty nice to have six points, because I didn't know that I'd score in my last game," Vitt said. "But it is heartbreaking to lose in the second-round of sub-state, especially against Tongie."
The senior was pretty confident that her young teammates will rebound and extract revenge in the coming season.
"We were all disappointed with ourselves, hoping we could do it over," Vitt said. "They will come back next year and beat them."
The team already has its eye on next season.
"This is a group that has shown great toughness all year, and I am guessing that this disappointment will make us stronger," Holthus said. "I fully anticipate our kids will work very hard in the off-season.
"This is a special group of young women, and I will always remember them. In 20 years I will remember the toughness they have shown, the work they have put in, and the way they have fought through adversity. I am really proud of them."