Title night should be relished
Cassie Lombardino said after her team won the Central Heights girls basketball tournament that the game didn't feel like a tournament championship game.
The game was played at St. James Academy in the middle of the afternoon.
The tournament trophy wasn't even presented because the weather outside prevented it from being delivered.
The Bobcats won that game, but Lombardino and her teammates were looking for more.
They found it Saturday night in winning the home championship for the first time in program history.
The championship game against Platte County felt like a title tilt.
Five minutes before tipoff, Basehor-Linwood fans were ready to watch their favorite teams try to win championships at home
Bobcat fans were not disappointed. Saturday should be remembered as title night at the Basehor-Linwood Invitational basketball tournament.
The girls game was extremely memorable and filled with excitement before it even started.
The public address announcers and school officials were so ready for the game they nearly forgot to play the national anthem.
"You are in for a treat," Basehor-Linwood athletic director Joe Keeler said to the crowd as play was about to be tipped off.
When you take the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a Kansas City Star poll and put them in one gymnasium with rabid high school fans, you get a little excited.
From the start, my eyes were transfixed on center court.
Lombardino and Morgan Johnson jumped against one another. The players epitomize what good post players should be, and examples for young players wanting to learn how to play basketball. They are an example for coaches and players who want to learn how to play the post.
Johnson was fluid with the basketball. She scored 25 points, which is likely more minutes than she played. She blocked shots with ease and grabbed rebounds.
Johnson was never really contained in the game, but she spent time on the bench in foul trouble.
Lombardino, though, seemed to play the game with poise.
She fought for position to get the basketball in the post,
They fought for position and then battled for rebounds.
Lombardino played the first quarter like a heavyweight fighter who was feeling her way in the game.
Coach Noah Simpson subbed in for her on two occasions. Settle down. Relax. Play well was the basic message.
She responded and got better as the game went on. She made her shots from inside the lane and forced the issue with Johnson.
Johnson and Lombardino both played like stars in one of the best high school matchups you will see this year.
In the end, Basehor-Linwood won the game because they played more as a team and because Megan O'Bryan stepped up and played lights out basketball. They won because Basehor-Linwood players were willing to get down on the ground and scrap. They played hard and forced their will upon Platte County.
I believe a couple factors were in play.Maybe being undefeated and having won a championship game that didn't seem significant prepared them for one that did?
Maybe it was the fans, you, the people reading this paper who made the difference. Basehor-Linwood fans have always loved their teams and shown passion for them. They have been there in good times and when the team wasn't winning as much.
They were there to provide a home field advantage on Saturday and to cheer both teams on.
The young people on the floor that night achieved something special, regular season tournament dominance.
It was special to watch boys and girls basketball players share the floor as equals after the game.
It was special to see the players run through a tunnel of Bobcats students and fans into the locker room the come back to share the experience with their families and friends.
With this type of success, you wonder what they will do for an encore this season.