Archive for Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A championship night

Basehor-Linwood teams win home invitational tournament

January 23, 2008

BLHS boys defeat Holton

Basehor-Linwood gave Mike McBride his first championship win as a head coach by completing a frenzied fourth quarter comeback to defeat Holton 55-54.

Trailing 54-53 in the game's last minute, the Bobcats got the ball to star Tanner Swafford, who missed a point-blank shot.

Point guard Chandler Schaake secured the rebound, passed it back to Swafford, who then hit Mark Vaca on the wing. Vaca zipped the ball back inside to an open Jacob Schierbaum, who laid it in to give BLHS the lead.

Holton threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds play, allowing Vaca to claim possession. Vaca was fouled and missed the front end of a 1-and-1, which gave the Wildcats one last-second opportunity to win. They got the look they wanted -David Martin missed an open three as the buzzer sounded, sending the Bobcats to celebration.

"We had come that far, and we weren't going to go down without a fight," Swafford said. "We wanted to come back and win that game, and that is what we did."

McBride said his team has been improving steadily.

"Ten years of coaching, that is my first championship," McBride said. "I've been in five or six championships, whether it be sub-state, district, tournament championships, whatever. That is the first one that we've won. I was starting to think it was something I was doing."

While it is a nice personal achievement, he is equally excited for his players.

"For us to come back and work like we did was great. So I wasn't going to be disappointed in how the game actually ended from that point."

Not that McBride was pleased by the performance.

"We just didn't play very well," McBride said. "I don't know how well they think they played. It was like we were in a lull for awhile. Emotionally, I am very, very happy for the kids. They came back and won. They could have folded their tents... That shows me these kids want to do something."

The Bobcats trailed 42-37 going into the fourth quarter after leading 25-23 at halftime.

Swafford finished with 19 points. After the game, he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"We go through hours of practice and work our butts off in practice and in games," Swafford said. "To come away with a championship win is great. It means the world to me. After you work that hard, you want to win."

Swafford is player who opponents have to guard throughout the game with double teams. The award is well deserved, McBride said.

The Bobcats overcame a 22-point effort by Wildcat sharpshooter Matt Burdiek.

Schaake scored 10 points. After the game, he was named to the All-Tournament team. Scott Ogilvie had seven points, two rebounds, and two emphatic blocks that energized the crowd.

"It is huge for us to be in a championship game," McBride said. "For tonight, even if it was ugly, it shows us that we can win. So maybe now, here, we are over the top. That's what I am hoping."

The championship convinced Swafford that big things are on the horizon.

"It's a good sign. We are pretty good. We are going to get past our sub-state and we are going to state."

O'Bryan leads 'Cats to win over Pirates

Megan O'Bryan picked the right time to have the game of her life.

With the grandest of stages set, the championship game of the Bobcat Basketball Invitational, the senior scored a career high 14 points off the bench, as Basehor-Linwood defeated Platte County 65-52 on Saturday night.

It was the team's first championship in the tournament it hosts, which began in 2001.

"Coach Simpson really helped me to relax and believe in what I can do," O'Bryan said. "I just try not to think about it and just let it come. It did. I was really excited."

While O'Bryan became the game's surprising story, the pre-game hype surrounding the "Battle of the Bigs," BLHS's 6-foot-3 inch star Cassie Lombardino and PCHS's 6-foot-4-inch Morgan Johnson, lived up to its billing. Johnson finished with 25 points and five blocks, but was mired in foul trouble throughout the second half. Lombardino had 21 points and seven rebounds.

The Bobcats were forced to dig themselves out of a sizeable hole, trailing 13-5 after the first quarter.

BLHS's offense looked discombobulated and its defense had a difficult time stopping Johnson. The Bobcats were able to cut the score to 28-24 at halftime.

They talked about shutting Morgan Johnson down at halftime. She had three fouls and Basehor-Linwood coaches wanted to get her on bench.

The plan paid immediate dividends. Johnson picked up her fourth foul just 25 seconds into the third quarter. She missed the rest of the quarter.

"It allowed us to really crash the boards and get some huge offensive rebounds."

Platte County had a difficult time getting offensive rebounds with Johnson on the bench. Meanwhile, Basehor-Linwood pounded the basketball inside.

"Our team was smart enough to realize, hey, we have to take advantage," Simpson said. "Cassie worked really hard to get the ball and when she got it, she did a good job of scoring."

Lombardino was instrumental in the comeback. She had only six points at halftime, but scored 15 in the second half. She also had all seven of her rebounds in the second half.

The Bobcats outscored the Pirates, sans Johnson, 23-10 in the third quarter to seize control of the game. BLHS led 47-38 entering the fourth quarter.

Johnson scored 12 points in the first half. She didn't score again until 5:30 remained in the fourth quarter. The junior, however, caught fire in the fourth as the Pirates tried desperately to claw their way back. She scored 13 of the team's 14 in the final frame.

O'Bryan's surprising offensive outburst helped Basehor-Linwood survive the onslaught.

"Megan O'Bryan, we said at the start of the fourth quarter, is by far the player of the game no matter what happens," Simpson said. "Megan is such a great player when she plays fast and carefree."

Simpson said the crucial part of the tournament was facing difficult competition because it was a postseason-like environment.

Brooke Sanders scored nine points and had six assists for the Bobcats, who play Tonganoxie on Friday.

"We just have to keep moving on because it doesn't get any easier," Simpson said. "Next Friday we are playing at Tongie. They are probably a little upset because of how things went last time. We want to just play game by game and obliviously we want to win every game."

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