Bergstrom represents small schools, contributes big in All-Star Challenge
Basehor-Linwood senior starts alongside 6A stars as Kansas plays Missouri
Overland Park She may have represented one of the smallest schools on the roster, but Basehor-Linwood senior forward Megan Bergstrom proved her game was as big as any of the Class 6A girls who were her teammates.
Bergstrom — barely a month removed from leading the Bobcats to a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament — finished with 4 points, two rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist Friday night as the Kansas girls fell just three points short of their Missouri counterparts, 98-95, in the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Challenge at Shawnee Mission South.
Bergstrom was part of a starting five that included University of Kansas signee Natalie Knight as well as All-Staters Ariel Smith of Blue Valley, Lizzy Jeronimus of Shawnee Mission West and Sanayika Shields of Olathe East.
“It was a great experience,” Bergstrom said after the game. “This was a great group of girls to play with and a great group of coaches to work with. The whole week was a lot of fun.”
From the beginning, it was clear that the game was going to be unlike any Bergstrom had played in before. First off, the format of the game called for college-ruled two 20-minute halves. It also became apparent quickly that the referees were going to allow the players to play as fouls were not called unless they were particularly egregious. This style of play allowed for more creativity on offense and a faster-paced game. The pace was something that Bergstrom welcomed.
“Oh yeah,” Bergstrom said when asked about the quickness of the All-Star Challenge. “It was really fast out there. You didn’t have time to relax because they could bring the ball down quick. You had to be in really good shape out there.”
In the first half, the Missouri players styled their game on perimeter offense. A variety of the black-clad Missouri athletes drained 3-pointers from all over the court. Blue Springs senior Jamesia Price began the barrage, but it was Truman’s Becca Strobbe who did the most damage from distance.
On the Kansas side, dribble penetration was the name of the game as Knight, Smith, Nelly Weledji of St. Thomas Aquinas, and Shandelyn Stewart of Bishop Miege drove through traffic to either score the layup, dish back out, or go to the free throw line. This approach gave Kansas a 36-28 lead with under eight minutes to play in the first half. However, Missouri got hotter with Strobbe’s appearance off the bench and went on a 13-0 run to take a 41-36 lead before the Kansas players cut the deficit to two at halftime.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair in which the Kansas players began to heat up from outside while the Missouri All-Stars started to pound the ball into the paint as the teams reversed their first half strategies. Both teams scored plenty of points in transition as turnovers and solid outlet passes from defensive rebounds became abundant.
In the final 60 seconds of the game, the teams traded the lead before Missouri grabbed a 98-95 advantage. Despite several looks in the final 15 seconds, the Kansas girls could not convert on any of their opportunities and lost.
Despite the loss, Bergstrom was enthusiastic about the experience.
“Just the honor to get selected and to play with girls like these is something I’ll never forget,” Bergstrom said. “All of these girls are really talented, and it was just great to play with them.”
As of yet, Bergstrom has not decided on a college path, but she indicated Friday that she plans on continuing her basketball career at the next level. The Basehor-Linwood senior plans to study nursing as a college student.