Braves will stick with ‘the system’
“Next season starts now,” so claims the Bonner Springs boys basketball Web site only a few days after losing a hard-fought game to Washington in the Class 5A sub-state tournament.
That is the mentality the Braves are seeking to install in their youth-laden program as they look to build on a season where they overhauled their offense and became one of the most electrifying teams in the Kaw Valley League thanks to their new system.
“We had a lot of fun doing something completely different,” coach Ryan Hull said. “We played more guys than any other team in the city on a regular basis, 15 total. And 14 of those guys had zero varsity experience coming into the season.”
The system, made famous by Grinnell College, allows a smaller team to compete with larger teams if they shoot well from behind the three-point arc. The great equalizer, as the three-pointer is often referred to, is the spine of “the system.” When it goes right, it goes right. When it goes wrong, it can go horribly wrong.
In the first game of the season the Braves played eventual Kaw Valley League champion Lansing and nearly knocked off the Lions, making 18 of 52 attempts from beyond the arc. Bonner felt pretty good about itself, but next it had to face eventual state runner-up Bishop Miege in the Metro Prep Classic. The Braves made just two treys in the game, and the taller, faster Stags capitalized in colossal fashion, 118-36.
Bonner Springs bounced back from the drubbing 24 hours later and beat Atchison, setting up a rematch with Lansing. The Lions beat the Braves again, but it took another great effort to put the feisty BSHS squad down.
Bonner Springs closed out the December schedule with a blowout victory against Turner and went into the three-week layoff with a 2-3 record, having lost twice to eventual state qualifier Lansing and once to Miege.
After the break, the Braves lost five straight games and the season began to spiral out of control.
They followed that streak by winning four of their next seven games, but in the end the Braves did not make enough shots on the season to finish with a winning record.
“We are sticking with ‘the system’ moving forward,” Hull said. “Unless we have a bunch of (tall players) come walking through the doors, we will continue to keep the energy level up around here and continuing to play this style.
“When things go right for us in ‘the system’ it is really fun. I’ve never had the kind of rush in coaching that I got this year after we hit a few threes and got some steals and hit another three; it’s so much fun. It is a fantastic feeling when the guys on the floor start coming together and feeding off the energy.”
For a team that hit 18 treys in one game, two in the next and had one game where nine different players hit a 3-pointer, the main focus for the Braves going forward will be consistency. Next year the roles will be more defined coming into the season and all the players will know what to expect going into the year.
“Now that we have experienced the highs and lows, it will allow our team to learn from their mistakes and try to re-manufacture those highs,” Hull said. “Overall, that is what we’ll take away from this season.”