Basehor girls make ‘goal of winning state championships’
Two years ago, the Basehor-Linwood girls took a senior-laden squad to the state basketball tournament for the first time in more than a decade.
This season, the Bobcats earned a return trip to the Class 4A state tournament and again lost in the first round. They fell, 45-38, to defending state champion and eventual runner-up Concordia on Wednesday, March 10, at the Bicentennial Center.
This time, however, the Bobcats left the state tournament saying “we’ll see you again soon” rather than bidding it farewell. Unlike the squad from 2008, just two seniors were on the roster this season. Both played big roles in the team’s success, but BLHS will return eight players from its state roster next season. Six of them played extensive minutes in the everyday rotation.
Four juniors — three of them starters — will lead the charge next season. That includes leading scorer Megan Bergstrom, a 5-foot-11 forward, as well as point guard Courtney Poe and shooting guard and defensive stalwart Shelby Equels. Junior Amanda O’Bryan missed most of the season with illness but returned in time to give the Bobcats a boost defensively and at the free throw line in the postseason.
Sophomore Cara McCarty started most of the season at forward before going down with an injury late in the season, and freshman Jamie Johnson blossomed as an aggressive scorer during the last half of the season.
With that nucleus, as well as sophomores Hannah Tush and Maggie Hattock back from the state roster, coach Noah Simpson said the program now needs to reassess its goal-setting. Rather than just shooting for a state berth, he wants the focus to be on leaving Salina with a trophy in hand — just like the Basehor boys did in 2009.
“I talked to the younger kids in (the locker room), and I said let’s come back next year and let’s get it done,” Simpson said. “There is no doubt when we start out at the beginning of the year we talk about making it, and I told the kids ‘all right, this is just the hiatus between getting here and coming back here next year. Now let’s make a goal of winning state championships.’
“We’ve made those goals of making it to state, but no more of that. We’ve now proved what we can do, and I think when you return the bulk of your players back like we will, there’s a great opportunity. I told the kids it’s going to take a lot of hard work in the offseason, and it’s going to take a lot of dedication when we get into the season, but having that experience and having that little chip on their shoulder I think is going to be a good thing. I think it’s going to get kids to really put in some time and work at it.”
Bergstrom said she has high hopes for what the Bobcats can accomplish next season.
“I’m excited for next year. I can’t wait,” she said. “I think all of us have had the experience. There were nerves that we would have had that this game (helped make go away), and we also proved to a lot of the fans that we can do it.”