BLHS boys win KA-MO Hoops Shootout championship
Bobcats take down some top programs in Kansas, Missouri during busy week
The plan was to give the Basehor-Linwood High School boys basketball team a season in a week.
That was BLHS coach Mike McBride’s idea when he took the Bobcats to the University of Missouri team camp Sunday, June 19, through Wednesday, June 22, and then immediately took them to the KA-MO Hoops Shootout at Shawnee Mission East.
Going by that ‘season in a week’ approach, the Bobcats closed out with a figurative state championship.
After posting a 6-6 record at the Missouri camp, Basehor-Linwood posted a 9-0 record at the Shootout and finished in first place.
“The most impressive thing was playing 21 games in eight days, going up against the biggest schools in Missouri and Kansas and winning it,” McBride said. “A lot of them were tired too, and had played seven or eight games, but the championship was our 21st game. Our first game was at 3:30 p.m. last Sunday, and the championship game started at 4 p.m. (this Sunday).”
McBride was particularly proud of the group because he didn’t know what to expect. The Bobcats won the Leavenworth Tournament June 3-5 and defeated Leavenworth High in the tournament finals, but the competition was even stiffer at the KA-MO Hoops Shootout — and McBride had a relatively inexperienced squad.
Seniors Colin Murphy and Ryan Murphy and junior Ben Johnson were the lone returning varsity players on the squad. In addition, senior Brad Waterman, senior Ryan Shafer, junior Tanner Garver, junior Caleb Hiss, sophomore Chase Younger and sophomore J.P. Downing rounded out the lineup.
The team camp was vital to the Bobcats success by the end of the week. During camp games, there were times of struggle as players figured out their roles and worked to develop chemistry.
“We started out rough not knowing who we were,” McBride said. “I had them put us in the upper division against the biggest schools, and we struggled early. But we eventually figured it out.”
By the end of team camp, the Bobcats had figured out individual players’ roles and the Murphy twins had emerged as definitive leaders.
In pool play, Basehor-Linwood swept through the competition as it defeated Olathe East, Fort Osage (Mo.), Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission North and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I think most teams had maybe one (regular varsity) kid gone, and we didn’t,” McBride said. “But it’s summer ball, and only having three kids back and the rest of the team being new is pretty big for our guys.”
The Bobcats earned the top seed in the single-elimination tournament, and thrived with the bull’s eye on their back.
After defeating Skutt (Mo.) Catholic in the first round, BLHS faced one of its toughest games of the week in the semifinals against Olathe South. The Falcons jumped out to a 9-0 lead before the Bobcats came back. Colin Murphy buried six 3-pointers as the Bobcats battled back for a three-point victory.
“What’s impressed me most right now is the twins have grown up incredibly,” McBride said of the Murphys’ desire to embrace a leadership role. “We beat Olathe South, and I’d bet Colin Murphy had 30 of our 49 points. Whatever we need, Colin does. If we need him to bring up the ball, he does. If we need him to D up on the other team’s best player, he does.
“Ryan Murphy showed me post moves I didn’t remember he had.”
The Bobcats hammered Andover Central in the semifinals and moved on to face Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West in the finals.
“I didn’t think we’d have a prayer against them,” McBride said, “and we ended up getting up by 20 in the second half and won by 12.”
With the two summer tournament championships and the team camp behind them, McBride said the summer basketball program is about to wind down.
“We’ve been practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about an hour and a half,” he said. “We’re going to do that (this week), cover some things we didn’t do well this week, and then we’ll be done Thursday for the rest of the summer until November, when they get done with football and their other sports.”