Taking a look back: BSHS winter teams bid farewell to decorated seniors
Winter within the Bonner Springs athletic department featured equal parts upstart programs and seniors concluding careers that ensured legacies within their school’s halls.
With the snow having, finally, melted, spring sports teams have begun taking the field to squeeze in practice before their respective season openers. Until then, let’s take a look at the winter that was at BSHS.
Dan Streit’s first year at the helm of the BSHS boys basketball team was not without its growing pains, which isn’t to say it was without excitement.
The Braves’ season ended early in sub-state play with a 65-56 loss at Tonganoxie on Feb. 27, but not before BSHS (8-12) pared a 16-point deficit into a four-point game in the second half. The conclusion was fitting for a season in which the Braves had their share of thrillers. Take December’s 64-61 Paola Invitational championship game loss to Piper, or a Jan. 4 39-36 win against Turner that halted a four-game slide.
Later in January, BSHS again found itself in a regular-season tournament final, coming just three points short against tournament host Baldwin in overtime. Just four nights later, the Braves held eventual sub-state champion Piper to its worst shooting performance of the season but couldn’t pull off the upset. The season’s peak came Feb. 8 in a 43-42 victory against Basehor-Linwood on the strength of its stifling defense. Next season, the Braves will miss two of the architects of that victory: senior Austen Twombley, the team’s most consistent scorer all year, and Logan Terrell, who often came through on the defensive end. Tyler Howell’s departure also creates a void inside as the team’s top rebounder. Jason VanMaren and Brandon Moore also graduate.
Jordan Jackson will lead a team of five seniors next season, likely taking the same approach to the court as he will football in 2013-14: eager to end his BSHS career on a high note.
The BSHS girls basketball team’s season ended in heartbreak in its Class 4A sub-state semifinal at Tonganoxie. The No. 4-seeded Chieftains canceled BSHS’ plans to return to the state tournament.
Fittingly, however, senior Haley Hoffine nearly won the game on a half-court heave at the end of regulation — a throwback to her jaw-dropping shot against Basehor-Linwood early in the season. Hoffine joins senior Anna Deegan as two of the program’s most decorated athletes to complete their Braves careers. Deegan led the Braves (17-4) in scoring with 14.9 points per game, and Hoffine 76 steals and 76 assists were team highs by a mile.
The Braves’ two losses to graduation may feel like much more, but the cupboard is far from bare. Kaleigh Taylor, Morgan Lawrence, Mikaela Bennett, Abrise Sims and Kennedy Bizzell all saw the floor this season. But even more encouraging was the emergence of freshman Julianne Jackson, for whom a case could be made for the state’s top freshman. Jackson led the Braves in field-goal percentage (48 percent), blocks (23) and rebounds (7.6 per game). With league champion Mill Valley losing six seniors and Tonganoxie graduating several key cogs, BSHS figures to again factor into the discussion for league favorite. Meanwhile, Deegan and Hoffine can now watch alongside recent BSHS alumni the program they helped build under coach Clay Oakes.
First-year BSHS swim coach Preston Williams ended the boys swim season on a positive note, telling the Chieftain how proud he was that the Braves’ 200-yard freestyle team managed to shave enough time off its early-season time to advance to state.
Jacob Kraus, Thomas Hook, Lucas Skyler and Jack Klingele — with senior Jacob Sopher as alternate — gave Williams his inaugural state-qualifier as BSHS coach. The team swam four seconds faster than its previous best.
The Braves’ 200-yard medley relay team also nearly advanced to state this season, missing by just two-hundredths of a second, and Sam Nelson also nearly made it in the 100-yard butterfly. Sopher was the only senior on the team, giving Williams hope that the trend of improved times carries over into 2013-14.
As good as the Braves’ season was — two state champions, fourth-place at the Class 4A tournament — it’s actually not yet over. Seniors Justus Seaton, Jonathan Blackwell and Aaron Puckett all competed in the March 5 21st Annual KC Metro Classic and both Blackwell and Puckett are expected to compete later this month in another all-star event. It is a deserved end to careers of the program’s latest crop of decorated wrestlers, which already entered the season with considerable credentials. Did they ever live up to the hype. Puckett capped a perfect 41-0 season with his first 160-pound state championship last month with an 8-0 win against Andale’s Kyle Armstrong. Also this season, Puckett captured his first Bobcat Classic tournament championship, doing so with just two seconds left in sudden-death overtime.
It was at the same Jan. 12 tournament that Blackwell first tasted defeat this season, something that wouldn’t repeat itself the rest of the way. In the Class 4A 152-pound championship final, Blackwell (35-1) actually spoiled the undefeated season of Buhler’s Jake Gehring to end his career with a second state title. Also at state, Josiah Seaton placed second at 106 pounds and Justus Seaton followed with a fourth-place finish at 113.