Basehor wins family rivalry in overtime
When Tanner Bowers lined up to take a penalty kick with 3:02 left in overtime Monday night against Piper more than the game was on the line. The Bobcats perfect record and No. 1 ranking in the state hung in the balance.
Bowers charged toward the ball, looked left the instant before his swinging leg made contact, and drilled the ball into the right corner of the goal past the fooled goalie. Game over: 2-1 Bobcats.
Bowers and his teammates ran across the field, passing Piper's fan section and holding up the 'BL' on the top left of their jerseys in celebration.
"I want it in my hands when the game is on the line," Bowers said. "I feel like I am the best one at finishing it. We have other players that can do it too, but when it comes down to a game winning goal, I feel like I should be the one taking it."
Ironically, Piper's goaltender, Chase Cook, is Bower's cousin.
"It's about accuracy," Bowers said of penalty kicks. "Some people can't place the ball. You want to place it in the corner. It isn't about kicking it as hard as you can. It's about touch. Especially with my cousin, 6-foot-6, and his wingspan, it felt like he was touching pole to pole."
The game pitted two undefeated teams. BLHS entered the game 6-0 and ranked first in the state. Piper entered 9-0 and ranked fourth.
BLHS coach Kevin Vincent said his main post-game emotion was "relief."
"With Piper it is always a battle," Vincent said. "I knew going in it would be a battle and it was everything I thought it would be. We were fortunate to get out of here with a win."
The Bobcat's offense, generally prolific up to this point in the season, was held in check throughout the night. Vincent said Piper's best defense was their offense.
"Piper had a massive offensive attack," Vincent said. "We were battling that all night. We came out a little flat, and I think Piper's attack gave us fits in the first half. We started to adjust in the second half and play better defense. In OT, our conditioning started to pay off. We wanted it."
Stephen Millison scored off a deflection at 27:24 in the first half. Piper answered eight minutes later to send the game into a 1-1 halftime tie. The teams battled to a scoreless draw in the second half.
Goalie Matt Murrell continued his impressive season. Piper had nine shots on goal, two more than the Bobcats. Murrell made three key saves on clean looks from close range over the course of the night.
"Our defense bent, but didn't break several times," Vincent said.
The win ensured an intact perfect season for the Bobcats as big KVL games loom on the horizon.
"We didn't quit," Vincent said. "That is the biggest thing as a team. We didn't play our best game, but on the same token we were able to do enough to stay in the game and eventually pull off the win."