Pirates can’t sink Bobcats in KVL clash
After three straight games of taking steps backward — capped by a 53-52 loss Friday at Mill Valley — the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team took a leap forward on Tuesday as it fought off Piper, 51-41, at the Bonner Springs YMCA.
For BLHS coach Mike McBride, it was a welcome sight after he’d seen his team not appear to be on the same page in recent weeks.
“I just told the kids, ‘we’re not all the way out of it yet, so don’t come in relaxed,’” McBride said. “But we took a big step on getting back to what we had there for a nine-game winning streak. We took a big step toward getting back to that.”
What was missing at times during the rough patch was the team’s core toughness and its ability to function as a cohesive unit regardless of who was on the floor.
Piper made it difficult for BLHS to do that on Tuesday because the Pirates play a physical, athletic brand of basketball and knock their opponents around.
“Gosh dang, they’re athletic, they’re quick, they played their game plan pretty well,” McBride said of the Pirates. “You’ve got to give them some credit because they flat-out came after us. They wanted that league title.”
The Bobcats countered the Pirates’ physical style by showing composure when the score got close. They also utilized a variety of offensive weapons because multiple players stepped up.
The teams battled to a 13-13 tie after the first quarter. Piper’s tall, athletic forwards clamped down on freshman forwards Ryan and Colin Murphy and took them out of the game, so the Bobcats turned to junior Richie O’Donnell for a lift. He muscled in back-to-back buckets right before the buzzer and sent BLHS into halftime with a 25-17 advantage.
“When he brings it, he’s incredibly hard to guard,” McBride said of O’Donnell.
“I told the freshmen that they need to have fun now. We had to have them at the beginning of the year, but now our two juniors (O’Donnell and Clint Schierbaum) have come along so now, heck, however many minutes (the Murphys) get, they just need to have fun.”
Twice in the third quarter Piper pulled close, but each time senior Anthony Pierce swished a 3-pointer to pad the lead.
BLHS led 38-30 entering the fourth quarter.
Piper gradually chipped its way back to within 5 points with less than three minutes to go, but back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Tanner Bowers served as the dagger and Basehor pulled away down the stretch.
“Seniors stepped up,” McBride said. “They made a little run and Pierce hit a couple 3’s. Bowers is way off most of the game, and he’s a senior and he comes out and hits two big 3’s. Our seniors are being seniors right now.”
Bowers led BLHS with 13 points, Pierce had 12, O’Donnell scored 10, Ryan Murphy had 6, Schierbaum scored 5, Chandler Schaake had 3 and Mark Vaca added 2.
Basehor improved to 12-3 with the victory and 7-1 in the KVL. The Bobcats are tied atop the standings with rival Lansing. The teams will square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at BLHS.
Basehor is the two-time defending league champion. McBride said it would be nice to defend the title, but regardless of the outcome he wants to see his team improve.
“Some teams really want league. If we win the league along the way, that’s fine, but a couple losses aren’t going to hurt us,” McBride said. “We know what our goal is, and when you’re playing good teams like that two weeks before sub-state, that’s about perfect.”
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