The Best of Basehor-Linwood: top sports stories of 2009
- Bobcats win Class 4A boys basketball state title
They entered as underdogs, but the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team left the Salina Bicentennial Center as the Class 4A state champion after a 53-48 victory against Girard.
BLHS trailed for only 18 seconds all game. It led by as many as 11 points in the first half and kept Girard at arm’s length throughout the second half to secure the victory.
The state title capped a weekend where the Bobcats entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed but proved to be the No. 1 team when it was all over.
The Bobcats were led by senior point guard Chandler Schaake, a four-year varsity player, and fellow seniors Tanner Bowers, Anthony Pierce and Justin Gripka. More than a senior-dominated team, however, the Bobcats were extremely balanced and received a major boost from juniors Clint Schierbaum, Richie O’Donnell and Mark Vaca and freshman twins Ryan and Colin Murphy.
The state championship was the first Kansas State High School Activities Association-sponsored athletic state title in school history.
- BLHS girls powerlifters defend state title
The Basehor-Linwood girls powerlifting team has dominated in everybody else’s gyms for the past two years, so it was only fitting the state’s most dominant program got to defend its state title on its home turf.
The Bobcats won their 12th straight tournament and second consecutive Class 4A state championship at the BLHS gym, and they did it in dominating fashion.
Basehor girls placed first overall in five of the 10 weight divisions, and the Bobcats compiled 122 team points, far outdistancing runner-up Russell’s 35 points. Caney Valley and Clearwater tied for third with 30.
“Our girls team honestly exceeded my expectations,” BLHS coach Ross Schwisow said. “Walking in, I didn’t think we’d have that many overall champions. I felt really good knowing we’d have a couple of them — Kayla Peterson, Melissa Seaman, Baily Kraus I was expecting because they’ve done so well at every meet they’ve gone to, but Brittany Billinger and Shelby Pierce are sophomores and they won their classes. That was amazing for them.”
As tough as the BLHS girls were last year, they didn’t have any state record holders. That changed in 2009 as the Bobcats tied or broke five records. Megan Rehm tied the hang clean record for the 140-pound class when she lifted 170 pounds. Shelby Witt set a state record in the hang clean in the 180-pound class by lifting 165 pounds.
The other three records were set by Seaman in the 148-pound class. Her 305-pound squat was a new record, as was her 180-pound hang clean. Those two lifts, paired with her second-place bench press of 140 pounds, added up to a new state record for total weight at 625 pounds. The old record was 560 pounds.
- Basehor football team has best season in school history
Four years ago, Basehor-Linwood football coach Steve Hopkins envisioned what his 2009 team would become.
He had a talented freshman quarterback in Brandon Leppke, a starting freshman center in Zach Ross and numerous other skilled newcomers to the program.
Hopkins liked what he saw. He knew something special was possible.
Four years later, the 2009 Bobcats — led by that gifted senior class — turned in the top season in school history as they posted an 8-2 record, won the Kaw Valley League championship, won a district title and made a third straight trip to the Class 4A state playoffs.
A first-round playoff loss to Jefferson County West, 41-27, put a damper on the end of the season, but the numerous accomplishments were still worth celebrating, Hopkins said.
“No team has ever been 8-2, and that might not sound like a lot in some programs, but that’s the best record in our school’s history and that group of kids deserves that,” he said.
- BLHS softball plays in longest game in state history
It took four hours, but by the time it was over the Basehor-Linwood and Lansing softball teams had played the longest softball game in state history.
The Lions edged the Bobcats, 2-1, in a 23-inning thriller that was a pitcher’s duel between Lansing’s Brittney Lang and Basehor’s Shelby Pierce. The two pitchers battled out of jams, recorded strikeouts and stifled opposing hitters.
Rachel Milnark smacked an early solo home run for Lansing. BLHS countered in the fourth inning when Megan Rehm scored on a wild pitch. After that, neither team scored until Lang drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 23rd.
Lang set a state record with 40 strikeouts. Meanwhile, she and Pierce combined for 61 strikeouts — another record.
“It was a blast,” Pierce said of the game. “It is something you might not get to do more than once. Somebody had to lose.”
- BLHS QB Brandon Leppke is Fontana Award finalist
Some of the biggest names in Kansas City football packed the gym at Olathe North High School for the 27th annual Simone Awards celebration, and all were there to pay homage to the top high school football players in the Kansas City metro area.
In the middle of it all was Basehor-Linwood senior quarterback Brandon Leppke. He was a finalist for the Frank Fontana Award, which goes to the top small-class player in the area.
Leppke set passing and rushing school records as a senior when he threw for 1,391 yards and 20 touchdowns and also ran for 1,632 yards and 18 touchdowns.
To Leppke, the recognition was a credit to what the Bobcats accomplished as a team during an 8-2 season, where they won the Kaw Valley League championship.
University Academy (Mo.) quarterback Darreen White White was selected as the winner.
It was the first time in BLHS history that a Bobcat player was nominated for one of the Simone Awards.