Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 BLHS seniors left winning mark on basketball court

March 19, 2008

It's time to say goodbye, again.

When spectators come back to the Basehor-Linwood gymnasium next year to watch the boys and girls basketball teams, many familiar faces will not be present.

Both teams will undergo massive changes this offseason due to graduation - the reality of high school athletics.

Brooke Sanders, Cassie Lombardino, Michelle Chrisman, Ashley Jeannin, Elyse Douglas and Megan O'Bryan have played their last high school games. And the boys squad will say goodbye to Tanner Swafford, Jacob Schierbaum, Scott Ogilvie and Alex Ziegler.

I'm sure a faction of fans enjoys the constant changing of players and seeing how girls coach Noah Simpson and boys coach Mike McBride will work incoming athletes into their systems. I enjoy that evolution too, but not enough to make me not want to lament the loss of athletes I have grown fond of watching compete.

Some people say they don't like professional sports because of a lack of stability. That isn't true, and in fact I like it for the opposite reason. While high school and college teams are highly cyclical, with players shuffling through for four-season tours of duty, professional sports teams have control of athletes for a longer period of time.

In the NFL, a league where rosters experience more turnover each season than any other major professional sport, players need to have five full seasons of service before even being eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Teams can keep a player around who they want, regardless of whether that player wants to be there or not, by using the transition or franchise tags.

But high school sports are different. We are forced to say goodbye to players that we have enjoyed watching each season.

This change is especially crystallized in basketball, a sport that fosters the most individuality. While losing a player like Ethan Douglas, a Kansas State signee and premier offensive and defensive lineman, is substantial to the Bobcat football team, the squad will look largely the same to fans milling into the stadium in September: same green jerseys, same playbook, similar looking players masked behind equipment. Football is not an individual sport.

Basketball is different. Those who have watched both BLHS basketball teams over the last couple of years will miss Swafford's versatility and creativity. They will miss the huge blocks Ogilvie swatted out of bounds or Schierbaum fighting for a rebond or Ziegler knocking down threes.

They will miss Lombardino deciding to take over a game and begin dominating down low.

Or maybe fans are a bigger fan of guard play and will miss Sanders' steady hand at the point, Jeannin's tough defense, or Chrisman's jump shot. Maybe they will miss O'Bryan and Douglas, who always had a great understanding of their roles and seamlessly fit in when called upon.

I will miss all of that.

These were players who brought respectability back to BLHS basketball. The boys won consecutive KVL titles and the seniors leave a squad that appears destined to break their substate drought.

The girls had a magical run to the state tournament where they equally utilized talent and teamwork.

The seniors truly cared about each other. It is why I wasn't surprised that I waited an hour in the hallway outside of their locker room after the loss to Holton - I knew the emotions inside that room were overflowing.

Seniors were saying goodbye and facing the reality that their high school careers were over. Simpson finally appeared with blood shot eyes, as did each of his players. And it wasn't a surprise - they truly cared, not only about the game but about their teammates. That is the nature of high school sports: you compete and then you move on.

New faces will appear next year. New stars will emerge. New talents will be recognized. But for now, it's time to say goodbye. Again.

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