Archive for Thursday, January 8, 2009

Confidence outweighs experience

January 8, 2009

Teams that lose four starters aren’t supposed to be this cool.

That’s especially true when two of the top reserves from the previous year’s squad also are gone.

When that previous year’s team posted a 22-2 record, the fall-off is supposed to be big.

If anything is clear four games into the season, it’s that “supposed to” has a much different meaning to the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team.

With a roster of fresh faces and just two players with significant varsity experience, the Bobcats are 4-0 and winning games in impressive fashion.

That’s surprising, right?

“No, not at all,” senior guard Bren Koontz says matter-of-factly about the team’s perfect start to the season.

Once you see the Bobcats play, you understand what she means.

Koontz, a senior, has an extra bounce in her step when she brings the ball up the court. Sophomore forward Megan Bergstrom shows no fear of having a shot blocked when she attacks the basket against opponents that match her 5-foot-11 frame. Junior Courtney Hooks tussles for rebounds, and junior Cassy Bever and sophomore Macyn Sanders don’t flinch before firing a three-pointer.

There’s not the same star power of last year’s senior class that produced four college players, but there’s talent at every position. The Bobcats know that, and they’re not afraid to utilize all of their weapons. Functioning like interchangeable parts, they take turns giving each other the ball in prime position to score.

“I think the confidence coming from going to state last year just kind of sticks with us,” Koontz says, adding, “Some of us girls have played together before, the younger ones, and we just know each other’s game style, and I think that helps a lot.”

What also helps is the constant sense of calm that comes from second-year coach Noah Simpson. He doesn’t over-coach. He lets his team play and work through mistakes, rarely uttering a critical remark while saving his voice to emphasize the positives of things such as hustle, good passes and solid defense.

“If you make a mistake, we’re not going to be upset with that,” Simpson says. “We’re going to look at what happens after you turn it over. If you turn it over, what do you do to help us get the ball back?”

That’s where the “supposed to” comes into the Bobcats’ vocabulary.

Turnovers are part of the game. But the Bobcats do the things they’re “supposed to” to make up for them. Multiple times during Tuesday’s 48-36 victory over Sumner Academy a BLHS player threw the ball away only to steal it back just seconds later rather than giving up a layup or committing a lazy foul. It’s that trust — that confidence that things will turn out OK — that is allowing the Bobcats to overcome their inexperience and improve rapidly.

Basehor opens Kaw Valley League play on Friday night at Turner. The Bobcats are the defending league champions. They’ll have a target on their backs, and they know it.

Ask Koontz if she’s worried and the answer is the same. She expects to compete for another title. She has no doubts. It’s what they’re supposed to do.

After watching the Bobcats play, it’s hard to disagree.

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