Basehor-Linwood boys set to begin title defense
Despite key losses, BLHS brings back many contributors
Members of the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team are not resting on last season’s success.
The team won the Class 4A state championship last season, and the Bobcats want to prove to the basketball community that it wasn’t a fluke.
They realize that few expected them to win state last season, and now they want to try to get back to state.
“Our goal is always to get to the state tournament,” coach Mike McBride said.
The team is hoping to pick up where it left off last March while forming a new identity.
“There are times when how we play looks very, very good,” McBride said. “There are 15- to 20-minute stretches here and there when we show we can be a good basketball team.”
Players are working to develop chemistry and figure out how to play as a team as coaches replace four valuable senior guards from the championship squad: Chandler Schaake, Anthony Pierce, Tanner Bowers and Justin Gripka.
With their departure, BLHS still returns a talented nucleus of players.
The returning group begins with a pair of twins.
Colin and Ryan Murphy were among the top scorers and rebounders as freshmen. Now sophomores, McBride expects them to play even greater roles.
“Each of the players do something different on the floor and are capable of doing what we need them to,” McBride said. “They are very multi-dimensional players. They both shoot the ball very well.”
Senior Mark Vaca returns and is expected to play point guard. He is filling the leadership role for the Bobcats, keeping players up in practice and providing a constant source of chatter.
“He is picking up where last year’s seniors left off,” McBride said.
Senior Clint Schierbaum will play in the post once he recovers from an injury that kept him out of football season. Senior Richie O’Donnell also returns. After finding his way into the lineup throughout the season last year, O’Donnell broke through at the state tournament and provided a much-needed boost off the bench.
Numerous new faces also will join the everyday varsity roster this season.
Junior Ryan O’Donnell is expected to contribute, as are junior Evan Theno and senior Jake Hattock.
“Hattock has the potential to sneak up on people,” McBride said. “He could be one of those guys who didn’t play varsity as a junior who could score 10 to 15 as a senior.”
Basehor-Linwood opponents can expect to play a tall, physically talented team this season.
“Literally, there will be times when the shortest guy is 6-foot-2,” McBride said. “We will be big, quick and fast. We have guys that can handle the ball and pass. I am very fortunate to have that.”
The Bobcats should be able to defend well, and McBride is interested to see what players step up and lead as scorers.
“Offensively, we have to play games and see what is going to happen,” he said.
BLHS opens the season against Junction City at 3 p.m. Dec. 10 in the Emporia Invitational.
“The kids have been talking about it since going to the capital after state,” McBride said. “They wanted to go and see what they could do in the Emporia Tournament.”
Basehor-Linwood starts the season a week later than most teams in the area, and once it begins the games will pile up quickly.
BLHS will play five games in nine days. After playing three games in the Emporia Invitational, the Bobcats will travel to Mill Valley on Dec. 14 and then play host to Class 5A state tournament team Lansing on Dec. 18 before beginning winter break.
Other marquee dates on the schedule are a Jan. 5 road game at Class 4A state tournament team Sumner Academy, the always-tough Bobcat Invitational Jan. 18-23 at BLHS and a Feb. 12 road game at Lansing.
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