Taking a look back: Winter sports a season for firsts at BLHS
For the most part, the winter sports season was a season for new faces amongst Basehor-Linwood programs. Even the latest state title run for the BLHS powerlifting teams came after the Bobcats graduated the bulk of its boys contributors from last season.
Girls basketball coach Jason Tatkenhorst and wrestling coach Tyler Cordts coached their respective inaugural seasons and the boys basketball team, meanwhile, took on a new identity.
Before we preview the 2013 spring sports slate, let’s take one last look at the recently completed winter sports season.
Suffer the setbacks and changes to the team’s roster that the BLHS boys basketball team did, and the Bobcats’ final 12-9 record would be flipped — or worse — in many other programs.
And while that’s partly a testament to Mike McBride’s coaching staff, McBride was the first to point out that it came down to the players to determine how they wanted their season to play out.
After senior Ben Johnson left in early February, the Bobcats suffered a 43-42 loss to Bonner Springs and a 17-point defeat to eventual league champ Lansing. But the Bobcats closed the regular season with a 68-63 win at eventual sub-state champ Piper behind the strength of a junior class that could well return BLHS to the front of the KVL pack when they return as seniors.
One day after Sumner Academy upset the Bobcats, 64-53, in the sub-state semifinals, several players approached McBride to inquire about when they can return to the gym. A strong offseason will be expected of juniors Chase Younger, J.P. Downing and Zach McNabb as well as freshman Jahron McPherson, who often dazzled this year, making plays worthy of an upperclassman. The Bobcats didn’t get a chance to defend their Class 4A championship this year. But suddenly, the void left by Colin and Ryan Murphy — and Johnson — seems to have been filled by a new-look team eager to make its mark on the program.
It wasn’t always easy for first-year coach Jason Tatkenhorst’s 7-13 Bobcats, but like their counterparts, the BLHS girls basketball team reached a similar pivotal point late in the season.
After suffering a midseason eight-game losing streak, the Bobcats nearly closed the season with three-straight wins had a 49-48 result at Piper gone their way on Feb. 19. A chance to avenge that loss didn’t materialize in the first round of sub-state as the Bobcats returned to Piper. The Pirates took hold of an early stalemate to win, 50-32, ending the Bobcats’ season.
The season marked the finale of Jamie Johnson’s career, and she didn’t go out quietly. Johnson broke the school record for most three-pointers in a season and also earned first-team All-Kaw Valley League honors. Samantha Rutherford and Kara Stephens joined Johnson in this year’s senior class. Returning as seniors next season will be Amber Garver, Alex Gorman, Victoria Smith, Jessica Budy, Courtney Payne and Julie Lough. The Bobcats’ junior class, however, also looks just as promising with Marriah Clayton’s emergence as a sophomore this year. Next season also figures to welcome back sophomores Sarah Ford and Alexis Nichols, who were forced to miss the season because of preseason injuries.
It’s no secret that both Basehor-Linwood powerlifting team has reached full-fledged dynasty status in the Class 4A ranks. What’s impressive is that coach Ross Schwisow can almost always count on a new crop of contributors to step up whenever there is turnover, as was the case on the boys side after last season. That didn’t stop the boys from winning their fourth straight title on Saturday in Abilene. Meanwhile, the girls flat out overwhelmed the competition, cruising to a sixth straight trophy.
The Bobcats have long been benefactors of a strength — no pun intended — in numbers. In competing for the powerlifting team, many athletes are also training for other sports in their offseason. And, year-round, whenever a student isn’t involved in an activity, there’s always a place for them in the strength and conditioning room. As is the case seemingly each year, many have taken that opportunity and run with it.
No BLHS team saw improvement as great as that of the BLHS wrestling program in 2012-13. Under first-year coach Tyler Cordts — in addition to former head coach Ed Seaton, now an assistant, and Travis Phippen — the Bobcats experienced something of a culture change from start to finish.
The results were noticeable early, as BLHS began sending more wrestlers to the medal stands as they had in years. They defeated teams in duals that have had their number in recent years, and even took perennial league contender, Mill Valley, to the wire late in the season. The Bobcats’ stellar turnaround culminated in them sending five wrestlers to Class 4A state tournament, highlighted by junior Cory McCleary’s 145-pound regional championship. Aside from the graduation of seniors Sam Seaton and Seagar Smith — both state tournament qualifiers — the Bobcats return the bulk of their team as well as welcome a crop of freshman Cordts is excited about. McCleary, Shayn Morris, Zack Carter, Cory McCleary, Zack Carter, Josh Summers and Justin Summers will lead a 14-deep upperclassmen crop that will now not only be familiar with wrestling in tournament finals, but will expect to do so.