Basehor-Linwood High School girls basketball team achieved goals during 2007-2008 season
Noah Simpson wrote three goals on the blackboard to start his inaugural season as coach of Basehor-Linwood: 1. Have fun. 2. Win the Kaw Valley League. 3. Win substate.
Basehor-Linwood accomplished all three.
"I think it was a huge success," Simpson said. "The more and more that I look back on it, I think that this was a huge step for our program to make the state tournament. Our kids seemed to have a lot of fun and truly enjoyed playing the game this season. There are so many things about this season that make it special. You really can't ask for much more. A state championship would have been nice, though."
The Bobcats were stopped in their dream to become the Kansas 4A State Champions. Holton defeated them 55-51 in the first round. The experience was far more sweet than bitter, but the team was still disappointed that it could not play for the crown.
"I think it's a little bit of both," Simpson said. "I am extremely happy with how we did. I think in the future I will think the same way. This is something our program can hang its hat on. Now we need to take it a step further. There is definitely disappointment in not making it to the state championship. But I really enjoyed this year."
Simpson said making the state tournament is a big step for the program.
"One thing that we want our kids to understand is that it isn't easy to make the state tournament," Simpson said. "It takes a lot of work. When you have success and you go 22-2 and win your league and go to the state tournament-that opens eyes. That is the mentality we want people to have. We are here to stay."
The team will sustain some major losses, though. Six key seniors are graduating, leaving gaping holes on the roster. Brooke Sanders, Cassie Lombardino, Michelle Chrisman, Ashley Jeannin, Elyse Douglas and Megan O'Bryan are all moving on. Sanders, Lombardino, Chrisman and Jeannin were starters.
"They absolutely mean the world to me," Simpson said. "I am not afraid to admit that I shed quite a few tears with those girls in Salina. It isn't tears for losing the game, it is tears for knowing I'm not going to be around those six everyday. You get accustomed to being around them. Above and beyond basketball. They are all great individuals. There isn't one of them that I wouldn't trust to watch my daughter. I hope the relationships we built stand strong in the future."
The team does have some building blocks returning, though. Courtney Hooks was solid in the post as a first-year starter. Megan Bergstrom also showed great potential as an interior player. Bren Koontz is an intense presence who has starting experience. Amber Jeannin, Kara Douglas and Cassie Bever join them. The six were in uniform for the state game.
"I honestly am very optimistic about next year," Simpson said. "I think we are going to be really good next year. Sports in general comes down to confidence. I know for a fact that the six kids that suited up for varsity (and are returning), they want to go back (to the state tournament)."
Simpson said Bever will give the team good perimeter shooting. Hooks came on strong as a starter and Bergstrom was tremendous as a varsity player in the second half. They will get help from two stellar squads: the junior varsity team finished 18-1 and the freshman team finished 16-3.
"I am extremely excited about the future," Simpson said.
He sees a lot of wins in the team's future.
"I could see us doing really well in league again," he said. "Our goals are going to be pretty close to this year. We want to have fun, win our league and win substate. Next year's team is capable of doing that. We have a lot of talent in our program. Those are realistic expectations. When you go to state, expectations get higher. I said when I took the job that I knew the expectations were high and that I was ready for it. I meant that. If the expectations among fans are now higher, that's good, and we are going to do our best to fulfill them."