Braves fire at will during up-tempo loss to Lansing
The Bonner Springs Braves sent a message to everyone in the Kaw Valley League during their 86-77 loss to Lansing on Friday night at the Bonner Springs YMCA.
That message: they are going to shoot 3-point baskets every opportunity they get.
The Braves launched an astonishing 50 3-point attempts and made 17 of them. In the process, they kept the game close against a much more experienced and much taller Lansing squad.
The run-and-gun offense also featured a run-and-sub style as second-year BSHS coach Ryan Hull sent in a fresh five players as though they were making line changes in a hockey game. In all, 14 Braves saw court time.
BSHS played a harassing full-court trapping defense that forced Lansing into several early turnovers.
This new style of defense and offense for the Braves was made famous by Grinnell College in Iowa. The team regularly scores more than 100 points per game, but many times so does their opponent. The trapping defense leaves the basket wide open to streaking players who get past the last player on defense.
Though it took Lansing a good portion of the game to figure out that was the way to beat the pressure, once the Lions did, they were able to stretch the lead out against the Braves.
“We had a lot of mental lapses tonight,” Hull said. “The first time running the system, that’s what we call it, ‘the system.’ With only one returning letterman and being able to hang in there with a team as good as Lansing, I’ll take that kind of effort every time.”
Early on in the first quarter, Lansing jumped out to a 16-9 lead and its do-everything 6-foot-8 center Cody Rush was dominating defensively. He is active around the basket — grabbing almost every loose ball and altering multiple shots. But the game changed when a streaking 5-foot-9 Isaac Mills skied to get an offensive rebound over Rush and put it in the basket before being slammed to the ground.
A chance at an old-fashioned 3-point play for Mills turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg for the senior’s career night in which he led all scorers with 24 points.
The Lions lead at halftime 38-30 as Bonner had struggled from long range hitting only four of their 20 first-half 3-point attempts. However, in the third period Mills nailed shot after shot and forced two jumped balls on one possession to fire up his team once again. Mills, the smallest guy on the court, included in his effort a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tighten the game to 57-54 at the end of the third quarter.
“What an unbelievable effort from Isaac tonight,” Hull said. “For that type of night to come from a guy that didn’t even play basketball last year … wow.”
The start of the fourth quarter began just as the third had ended — with a 3-pointer. Sophomore guard Austin Laing buried a trey from the corner and tied the game at 57-57. With all of the momentum on their side, the Braves fell apart on defense. Lansing went on a 10-0 run that culminated with a thunderous dunk by Rush who was the recipient of a nice pass to end the four-on-one break.
“With all the pressure, we will give up some easy buckets,” Hull said. “It’s not supposed to be that easy, though.”
The lead remained in double digits until sophomore guard Kyle Day hit two 3-pointers in a row for the Braves to make the score 81-74 with Lansing still in control of the game.
Senior forward Jared Brailsford forced a steal and was fouled going to the basket and looked to cut the lead to five with only 20 seconds left. He missed both free throws but fought for the rebound and tipped it out to a wide-open Mills who sank the 3-pointer to cut the lead to 81-77 before LHS put the game away.
“That was pretty fun to watch, pretty fun to be a part of,” said a satisfied Hull after the game. “If we just played (Lansing) straight up, they would have run us out of the gym with their height.”
All five starters for Lansing finished in double figures. Curtis Beall had 23, Sloan Blain had 17, Brian Beall had 15, Clayton Hall had 13 and Rush also had 13.
Brailsford had 16 for the Braves, Laing and Day each scored 9, and J.J. Jackson had 6.
Both Bonner Springs (0-1) and Lansing (1-0) will be back in action Thursday at the Metro Prep Classic in Bonner Springs. The Braves play Bishop Miege at 3 p.m. in the BSHS gym, and Lansing plays at 8:15 p.m. against Shawnee Heights, also in the BSHS gym.