Wristen: Ability to adjust proves valuable for Bobcats
Salina It didn’t even feel like the game was close.
Sitting in the Bicentennial Center Thursday afternoon during halftime of the sixth-seed Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team’s first-round game against No. 3 Colby at the Class 4A state tournament, it felt like Colby was running away with the game.
The scoreboard told a different story.
The Eagles led by just two points, and those were the only two points they’d scored in the last seven minutes as Basehor-Linwood erased a seven-point deficit.
How in the world did the Bobcats bring Colby’s red-hot offensive attack to a screeching halt?
Simply put: They made a change.
The Bobcats pride themselves in being a tough man-to-man defensive team, and it wasn’t working. They weren’t necessarily guarding poorly, either. Colby guards Kayla Hockersmith, Kelsey Shields and Katrina Kaus were simply too quick to be contained in a one-on-one situation. It’s more of a credit to the Eagles’ guards than it is a criticism of the Bobcats’ defense.
Hockersmith, Shields and Kaus easily drove to the basket for layups. Other times, they drove into the lane and kicked the ball back outside to an open teammate for an uncontested shot.
Good coaches have their teams adjust to the opponent when it’s necessary, and there was really no option. Still, BLHS coach Noah Simpson recognized the inevitable before it was too late. He had his team switch to a zone early in the second quarter, and it proved to be a game-changing maneuver.
The Bobcats weren’t quick enough to stop the Colby guards’ penetration in the man-to-man, but the Bobcats were certainly aggressive enough to interrupt, annoy and flat-out baffle the Eagles with a zone.
The Eagles would score just two more points in the first 11 1/2 minutes of the third quarter as well.
Suddenly the Bobcats held a five-point lead, and the game felt like a blowout for a much different reason. It didn’t matter which Basehor-Linwood players were on the court, they all were effective in the zone.
The Bobcats went on to win, 37-28, and they earned a berth in Friday’s state semifinals against defending state champion Cheney.
It’s reasonable to anticipate the Bobcats beginning the game back in their traditional man-to-man, but if Thursday’s performance is any indication then their zone might be a secret weapon that Simpson can turn to with confidence if needed.