Bobcat girls thwarted in attempt to advance to title game

There is no doubt that the Basehor-Linwood girls' basketball team has seen a seismic shift in how it plays the game.

The Bobcats seem to get more of that competitive edge and team cohesion that so many winning teams need and have and so many starve for.

But during the building process, a team like BLHS will ultimately run into someone just too good and that happened Friday night in the semifinals of the Bobcat Basketball Tournament against unbeaten Benton of St. Joseph's, Missouri, the Bobcats did a lot of good things, but not enough and that played a huge part in their 50-23 loss against a very, good basketball team.

The Bobcats (5-6) now have Holton in Saturday's 2 p.m. consolation final, but not before registering a stirring first round win over Blue Valley and never giving up the battle against Benton.

Katie Yankovich and Riley Tinder led the Bobcats with six points apiece.

“(Benton) is a really good team, but no one is going to tell me that we are a lot worse than them,” BLHS head coach Jason Tatkenhorst said. “We got to fix it. I really believe in these girls and I believe we should have been right there with them. We have some great things that are going to happen for us still in January, February and hopefully into March. We messed up and they looked like a team that wanted to be in a championship game. They win a lot of games and in order to beat them, you have to do a lot of things right.

“We aren’t going to settle on  that and we will keep battling and have an overall better atmosphere with our team and program. (Saturday) we play another good team. That’s how you got to play in a tournament.”

Benton established dominance early by taking a 15-3 lead in the game's first eight minutes, behind an approach that is nine parts fundamental and fine-tasting vanilla and just a dash of the exceptional.

BLHS got some good looks at the rim, but either fell just off or were rushed to take an attempt against a well-coached defense that put the right resistance in the right place and almost always the right time.

“We have three goals and one of them is that we are always going to the basket whether you have the ball or not and we continued to do that,” Tatkenhorst said. “We feel we can put five girls on the court at the same time that can take the ball to the basket.”

“This team definitely is the best at man-to-man we have played so far,” freshman point guard Adell Gore said. “We are used to running our plays and they just weren’t working tonight. We just have to bring more energy tomorrow. They were really aggressive and we had to work really hard to get past them and we aren’t used to that. They also had really good help side.”

Benton would lead 27-8 at halftime without much variance from its game plan as it continued to put the Bobcats in the position of being the hunted.

“(Benton) knows how to win and we aren’t consistent enough, but we are going to try and find that consistency,” Tatkenhorst said. “I know we have a lot of competitors in our locker room and they are pretty disappointed. It’s nice to get some practices in before the next game and it’s not the case this time and usually players would like that. You come back the next day, put the jersey on and play. Hopefully, that’s what we do (Saturday).”

The Bobcat girls can not be denied their 24-7 toughness and fight and they continued to look to attack the rim and did so with authority only to see multiple Benton defenders smartly counter the BLHS attack.

Benton may have led 38-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but not because of any lack of effort and intent by the Bobcats.

“I feel we just need to start and finish the games the same, no matter what,” BLHS junior Lucy Lally said. “We just kind of got deflated in the beginning once we got down. We just didn’t know how to bounce back from that.

“We need to work better as a team and not grow apart when things get tough. We also need to improve on boxing out for sure and getting the ball into the post and kicking it right back out because we are usually open like that (in the two-man game).”

ALSO....

The Leavenworth High boys’ basketball team fell into Saturday's 7th Place contest of the Dodge City Tournament of Champions at Wireless Arena after falling Friday, 54-44 to Manhattan.

Leavenworth (3-8) will now play the loser of Dodge City or fellow Sunflower League foe, Olathe East, who the Pioneers defeated a few weeks ago.

Nathan Dalby and Reece Williams led Leavenworth with 12 points apiece.

“We did not play well, we had too many turnovers,” LVHS head coach Larry Hogan said. “Dalby came off the bench to add a spark late amd JoJo Darthard also contributed with a solid game when Kevin Payne was injured (but is fine moving forward).” Mike Sauer is in free throw shooting contest finals tomorrow. This is not what we were hoping to accomplish this week.” Twitter@LVTSportsguy