Wristen: Shootout beneficial for Bobcats

December 21, 2011

— For the past two years I’ve been wanting to see the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team compete in the Hy-Vee Shootout.

The Bobcats have been ranked among the top teams in the state ever since making their run to the 2009 Class 4A state championship, so what better platform to prepare them for the postseason — as well as see how they stack up with one of Missouri’s top teams — than putting them in the Hy-Vee Shootout?

I finally got my wish Saturday when the Bobcats took on Missouri powerhouse Columbia Rock Bridge at Avila University in this year’s Shootout, and it was worth the wait.

We learned quite a bit about the Bobcats during the four quarters and four extra minutes of overtime that it took for BLHS to earn a 67-60 victory.

We saw early passiveness when some of the Bobcats appeared uncertain how to react to the spotlight of playing for a live television audience, in a college facility and in front of a press table lined with college scouts.

We saw role players step up and help keep Basehor-Linwood in the game when its star players weren’t at their sharpest. In particular, Brad Waterman may have been the most calm and collected player on the court during the first two quarters as he snagged rebounds and sank multiple clutch shots.

We saw the Bobcats fall behind by 13 points late in the third quarter. Then, faced with serious adversity, we saw them regroup and roar back with an inspired 25-6 record. During that time, the Bobcats forced turnovers with aggressive defense and they attacked the basket on offense. Their “Big Three” — Colin Murphy, Ryan Murphy and Ben Johnson — asserted themselves on every possession.

We then saw Basehor-Linwood weather a late rally by Rock Bridge as the Bobcats fended off the Bruins’ potential game-winner, and then BLHS finished the job with an 11-4 run in overtime.

Ultimately, what we learned from Basehor-Linwood’s performance at the Hy-Vee Shootout is that the Bobcats are so much more than the “Big Three” this season. They have additional weapons like Waterman and versatile scorer Chase Younger, and they have numerous guys like Tanner Garver, Zach McNabb, J.P. Downing, Ryan Shaffer and Caleb Hiss that are both confident and competent with the ball in their hands. All of them contributed in important ways to the comeback against Rock Bridge, and their success on a big stage this early in the season should make the Bobcats far more prepared for the postseason in March.

The Bobcats needed to be in the Hy-Vee Shootout during the past two years. On Saturday, they proved they belonged. In March, I expect them to reap the benefits.

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