Bobcat boys dominate Benton in home tournament opener
Frustrated with an effort they believed wasn’t up to par during Friday’s narrow victory at Mill Valley, Basehor-Linwood boys basketball players called their own practice over the weekend to get back on track.
Consider the glitches fixed.
The Bobcats returned to the court Tuesday in the first round of the Basehor-Linwood Boys Basketball Invitational, and they put on a clinic in the form of a 66-28 rout of St. Joe (Mo.) Benton.
The Bobcats committed just eight turnovers, they shot 58 percent from the field and nine different players scored. They also threw down three dunks, two by Colin Murphy and another by Ben Johnson that put an exclamation point on the victory.
All in all, it was a feel-good start to the home tournament.
“It was real fun,” point guard Evan Theno said of the victory. “Ben, when he got his dunk, he gave us a little flex there as he was going up the court. It was pretty fun to see all that out there.”
While Johnson provided the final highlight, it was Theno whose early fireworks propelled the Bobcats to victory.
The game began as a competitive affair as Benton’s Cameron Richardson swished a 3-pointer on his team’s first possession. Collin Easter knocked down a jumper a few possessions later and gave the Cardinals a 5-3 lead with 5:43 left in the quarter.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Theno gave BLHS a 9-5 lead, but Benton’s Chris Young countered with a trey that made it 9-8 with 4:20 left.
Eight and a half minutes would pass before the Cardinals would score again.
Theno came off a screen and fired in his third straight 3-pointer, igniting a 19-0 Bobcat run that saw the lead balloon to 28-8 by the midpoint of the second quarter. Five different Bobcats scored during that surge while Benton missed nine straight shots and turned the ball over five times.
“Usually once one person, no matter who it is, gets going, then the rest of us kind of rise around them,” Theno said. “Then everybody starts hitting their shots and we start playing as a team, and it just takes off from there.”
BLHS coach Mike McBride said his team’s improved defense made the difference.
“The extra day on the weekend that’s what we worked on was defense,” he said. “That’s what they wanted to work on, so we came in and really fine-tuned some things.”
Benton regrouped during the final minutes of the first half and traded points with BLHS, but the Cardinals still trailed 36-18 at intermission.
Matters only got worse for Benton during the second half. Basehor-Linwood made its first five shots of the third quarter and made a blistering 11 of 14 during the eight-minute period. Twins Ryan Murphy and Colin Murphy combined for 14 points on 7 of 7 shooting during that surge as the lead ballooned to as many as 33 points.
The fourth quarter was played with a continuous clock, and the starters sat for most of that time. Colin Murphy opened the quarter with a dunk before taking a seat on the bench to watch the reserves play. Jared Patton and Austin Stubbs both scored for BLHS during the final period before Johnson’s dunk in traffic closed out the victory.
Young led Benton with 13 points.
Ryan Murphy paced BLHS with 13 points; Colin Murphy had 12; Johnson scored 10, Theno had 9; Austin Laing scored 8; Patton and Stubbs scored 4 apiece; and Ryan O’Donnell and Steyr Stubenrauch each chipped in 3.
Basehor-Linwood (8-0) advances to face Ottawa in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Bobcats have won the tournament the past three years, and McBride said it’s a big deal to his players to continue that streak.
“It’s their own tournament. We’ve won it three years in a row, and obviously they want to try to repeat,” he said. “We know the next two games are going to be wars.”