Lady Cats will look to Koontz, Hooks to fill veteran roles
Basehor-Linwood High School girls basketball coach Noah Simpson likes the effort he sees from his players on the court this season.
“We have had five practices. The one thing I noticed that I am encouraged by is they work extremely hard,” he said. “All the way through practice they are focused and wanting to get after it. I am extremely encouraged by that.”
Aside from work ethic, there are questions that need to be answered in this year’s team.
Players are being evaluated. Lineups are being shuffled around daily as the depth-chart changes.
Simpson is examining everything. He will continue to do so until the season starts.
Such is life when a team loses six seniors who led them to a 21-2 record and a trip to the Class 4A state tournament last season.
Four of those players are playing college basketball. Cassie Lombardino is playing at Washburn University. Ashley Jeannin is starting at Grinnell College in Iowa. Michelle Chrisman is playing at the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth. Brooke Sanders transferred to Baker University and will be eligible to play during the second semester at the school.
The Bobcats also lost Megan O’Bryan and Elyse Douglass last season.
“When six seniors leave the program, you have a lot of things to evaluate, seeing what fits, and what is best for the team,” Simpson said.
Talent remains on the basketball team.
“I think Bren Koontz will be a huge contributor,” Simpson said. “She is a guard who had an ACL tear two summers ago, but is back to where she wants to be. She should give us a lot of points and production on the offensive side.”
Courtney Hooks is the team’s most experienced varsity player. Hooks, an All-Kaw Valley League volleyball player, should be a top player for the team this season.
“She is going to do a great job and is a great rebounder who can score points,” Simpson said. “We can run things through her.”
While faces have changed, the Bobcats’ goals are the same. The team wants to play in the championship games of the tournaments they compete in. They also want to contend for a Kaw Valley League title.
“Our goals and expectations have not changed a bit; just different faces,” Simpson said. “We are confident in the kids and think they will do a good job. As long as they work hard and stay focused, we think it will be a fun season.”
Basehor-Linwood opens the season Dec. 9, in the Central Heights Invitational Basketball Tournament, which will take place at Osawatomie High School.
“We play those three games in the tournament, come back and play Mill Valley and Lansing in Kaw Valley League play,” Simpson said. “That is not a lot of time. We get right into it. I am excited to get the games going.”
While the faces may have changed, Simpson said the program received a bump from qualifying for state last season.
“I definitely feel momentum there. A big part is the success we had last year,” he said.
Another portion is offseason work. Basehor-Linwood players played together on teams that played 20 games last summer.
“It gets them more comfortable,” Simpson said. “We can get through things quicker and get things in.”
Simpson is in his second season as a head coach and said he feels more comfortable.
“I think that I feel more comfortable going into games and stuff right now,” Simpson said. “Last year (I was) figuring out what we were doing … is that going to work? Are we ready for this set of games? I feel more comfortable, definitely, on the experience part.”