For Basehor, the team was the star
Salina Pop quiz; two questions.
Question one: Name the star player on the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team.
Tough one, right? There are so many options to choose from. There’s Chandler Schaake, the four-year varsity point guard and leading scorer for BLHS in the state tournament. There’s Ryan Murphy, who proved to be a force in the paint throughout the year. Tanner Bowers hit some huge 3-pointers that propelled the Bobcats to victories throughout the season. Anthony Pierce did the same. The list goes on and on.
Question two: Name the boys basketball team that won the Class 4A state championship on Saturday.
Ah, that one’s much easier.
The answer to that question also was the secret to the Bobcats’ success this season, and in particular their three-game march through the state tournament field in Salina along the way to winning the state title.
The Bobcats had a roster loaded with talented players, but unlike so many gifted teams, they didn’t have egos to deal with.
Seniors Chandler Schaake, Tanner Bowers, Anthony Pierce and Justin Gripka welcomed in transfers Richie and Ryan O’Donnell and freshman twins Colin and Ryan Murphy. The players embraced each other’s talents from day one.
“In the beginning, we knew the Murphys could do things, we knew the O’Donnells coming in,” Bowers said. “Nobody thought we could all put it together, but everybody just came together. We didn’t have one person who wanted to go out and score 25 points in a night. Chandler, me, Pierce, Ryan Murphy, Colin Murphy, anybody could come out and score 25 a night; we didn’t care as long as we got the W.”
The wins piled up quickly. BLHS thrived on being unpredictable, having Ryan Murphy pour in 24 points one night and Schaake score 18 on another.
By the time the state tournament rolled around, the Bobcats were so comfortable in their multi-faceted attack that they caught more experienced opponents off guard. Wichita Trinity, the 3A state champ a year ago and a 22-1 squad entering the 4A tournament this year, didn’t know who to contain.
In the semifinals, Ottawa couldn’t stop any of the Bobcats.
In the championship game BLHS again diversified its attack. Pierce hit three shots in the first quarter, Schaake hit a pair of three-pointers in the second, and Ryan Murphy scored twice in the third. Six different players shot free throws down the stretch.
So many players contributed that it was hard to determine which was the most valuable. For the Bobcats, however, that’s something they won’t waste any time figuring out. They’ve got a trophy to show for their effort.