Frigid Bobcats fall to Park Hill in tourney opener
The Basehor-Linwood girls had a losing record at this time last year, and it did nothing to deter their postseason plans.
That Bobcat squad finished the season with a 16-8 record and advanced to the Class 4A state tournament.
That history lesson is cause for comfort for BLHS coach Noah Simpson after his squad’s 35-32 loss to Park Hill (Mo.) Monday night in the opening round of the Basehor-Linwood Girls Basketball Invitational.
“I think at this time last year we were 2-4, and we got it figured out along the way,” Simpson said. “I told the girls this tournament is about figuring out where you’re at and where you need to be, and it really teaches you a lot of things. I think it’s a good learning experience for us.”
One thing the Bobcats learned against Park Hill was that they have to show up ready to play. They didn’t have school on Monday, so their game-day routine was thrown off and they didn’t respond to it well.
Simpson put the blame on himself for his team’s lack of focus.
“I told the kids it’s 100 percent my fault,” Simpson said. “I will do a better job of getting them motivated. I don’t want it to ever sound, look or feel like they did something wrong to cause a loss. That’s on me 100 percent. They get all the credit for the wins and I’ll take it for the losses, so in all reality I’ve got to do a better job of motivating them from the get-go and getting them ready.”
The Bobcats struggled mightily from the field throughout the game, and the tone was set in the first quarter when they made just 1 of 10 shots. It took more than five minutes for them to score their first points on a spin move in the lane by Macyn Sanders that tied the game at 2-2. Their only other point in the quarter came on a free throw by Bailey Hooker. Park Hill also struggled with its shooting, however, and the Trojans used a pair of late 3-pointers from Kyleesha Weston and Helena Hudson to take an 8-3 lead after the first eight minutes.
BLHS forced Park Hill to turn the ball over on three of its first four possessions of the second quarter, but the offensive woes didn’t allow the Bobcats to make much of a dent in the lead. Eventually, free throw shooting sparked the Bobcats as Megan Bergstrom and Courtney Poe each buried a pair and pulled within 10-7 with 4:33 to go in the quarter.
Moments later, Poe found Bergstrom in the low post for a turnaround jumper.
Two more turnaround jumpers by Bergstrom from the same spot later in the quarter gave BLHS a 14-12 lead. Each team tacked on a free throw before halftime and the Bobcats led 15-13 at intermission.
Cara McCarty scored twice during a 6-2 run to open the third quarter as BLHS took a 21-15 lead. The Bobcats later used a three-point play by Poe to match their largest lead of the game at 26-20 with 2:14 to go in the quarter.
Just as the offense appeared to be getting in sync, the Bobcats went cold again. They didn’t score for the next 6:41 as Park Hill went on a 10-0 run and built a 30-26 lead.
Finally, a pair of Bergstrom free throws with 3:33 left in the fourth quarter snapped the Bobcats’ cold spell. Moments later, Poe fired a long pass ahead to Sanders who knocked down a pull-up jumper and tied the game at 30-30 with 3:15 to go.
After trading misses, Weston buried a step-back 3-pointer from the left wing that put the Trojans ahead for good at 33-30 with 2:20 to go. Bergstrom narrowed the gap with a pair of free throws, but Park Hill made 2 of 4 from the stripe down the stretch to extend the lead.
Basehor-Linwood had two good looks in the closing seconds, but Amanda O’Bryan’s 12-footer missed and a 3-point try by Poe fell short.
BLHS committed just 10 turnovers and sank 14 of 18 free throws, but it made just 9 of 40 shots from the field. Bergstrom scored a game-high 14 points, McCarty had 6 and Poe added 5.
Weston led Park Hill with 13 points. The Trojans made 11 of 31 shots and had 13 turnovers.
Park Hill advances to play Ottawa at 6 p.m. Thursday in the championship semifinals. Basehor-Linwood plays at 6 p.m. Wednesday against St. Joe (Mo.) Benton in the consolation semifinals.