Basehor-Linwood girls advance to state tournament
The ambience inside the Basehor-Linwood girl's locker room was jubilant at the conclusion of Saturday's substate championship game against Eudora.
The Bobcats defeated Eudora, 62-44, propelling them into the 2008 4A state championship tournament.
"There was lots of excitement," senior Ashley Jeannin said. "Banging on lockers, screaming, throwing stuff around. We're so excited and happy."
Seniors Cassie Lombardino and Jeannin led the way for the Bobcats, scoring 20 points and 14, respectively.
Basehor-Linwood used a second quarter, 9-0 run to jump out to a 28-17 lead at the half that proved insurmountable for the Cardinals, 19-3.
The Bobcats started off strong in the first quarter, leading 9-3 with about four minutes to play.
Eudora, though, responded and took a 12-11 lead into the second quarter.
Basehor-Linwood responded in a big way late in the second quarter.
Sparked by two Jeannin three-pointers and seven points by Lombardino, the Bobcats found themselves with a comfortable lead at halftime. Eudora managed five points in the quarter.
"The execution on defense was perfect," coach Noah Simpson said. "We knew who to key on and who to let go. We forced other players from Eudora to step up and hit shots, and they didn't go. And we did a great job of crashing the boards."
The strategy focused on senior guard Emily Ballock and preventing her from driving to the basket.
Also, Basehor-Linwood guarded junior Bailey Scott very tight behind the three-point line.
"Number 14, the Ballock kid, loves to drive. She's not one that normally puts up a lot of outside shots," Simpson said. "So we told our girls, 'Play off, and don't let her get to the basket and don't let her get to the free-throw line. We also knew we had to cover up No. 2 (senior Elaina Kouri) and No. 3 (Scott) because they are the predominant outside shooters."
On the offensive end, Eudora could not stop Lombardino. Every time the Cardinals narrowed the lead, Lombardino made big baskets to stop any Eudora run. She scored 11 points in the third quarter, more than the entire Eudora team.
"We know they have tworetty good posts, (Haley)Epperson and (Nikki) Snider, but we also knew they like to play behind on defense," Simpson said. "If you play behind Cassie she's gonna score all the time. Being 6-foot-3-inch she can turn around and get easy looks at the basket. We knew that was an area of the game we really wanted to exploit if they stayed in their man-to-man."
When the Cardinals switched to a zone defense, Jeannin knocked down big threes. She hit three-pointers in every quarter except the third and scored 12 points on threes.
Jeannin said she didn't feel much different in warmups before the game, but felt good when the game started.
"No, not really in warm-ups," she said. "I just got into the game and started feeling it there."
The Bobcats upped their lead to 41-27 in the third quarter, and coasted to the substate championship. Basehor-Linwood made 10 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter, quelling any chance for a Eudora comeback.
"Two keys (to the game), and we started out with it, we've been telling the girls the last two days, 'Have fun and play your game.' When we decide we really enjoy what we're doing," Simpson said, "we play pretty well."
The Bobcats (22-1) received a fourth seed at state and played Holton (22-1) in the first round at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday
"I think they have a good chance. They've proven they can beat good teams. They've beaten top-10 teams all year long so I think they have a great shot," said Eudora coach Ryan Luke. "If they continue to shoot as well as they did (against Eudora), then they have a great