It will be a season that Basehor-Linwood fans will remember for a long time.
The boys’ basketball team finished 5A state runner-up with a 21-3 record. The team fell just short to Andover Central in the state championship game 58-47.
Head coach Mike McBride thought the Bobcats were the better team but Andover Central proved to be better in the title game.
“I thought we were the better team in the championship game,” McBride said. “But (Andover Central) proved to be better that day. (We had) such an emotional game (in the semifinals), and trying to turn around in 20 hours is rough, but we will look back and realize that this was a great year.”
The Bobcats entered the championship game after a thrilling victory the night before over Bishop Carroll. The game was an easy pick for McBride’s favorite memory.
“The semifinal game is the greatest comeback that I have ever been a part of as coach,” he said. “To have your two all-state kids from the year before sitting on the bench with four and five fouls and to come back from 15 with 7:24 left to beat a very good team … it doesn't get much better than that.”
The Bobcats turned it on in the final quarter before Jacob Coleman gave the Bobcats the lead with 1.1 seconds remaining before the Bobcats would win 69-68.
The win increased the team’s streak to 13 games. The Bobcats went 10-0 in United Kansas Conference play during the stellar season.
McBride said he does not give out an MVP. He lets everyone else decide.
“I love all my kids,” McBride said. “And they put in so much time and effort that they are all MVPs to me.”
He did say junior Cory Davila was the team’s most improved player.
“He was a huge factor,” McBride said. “Especially after he came back from a sprained ankle at Leavenworth. He played big in big games. The bigger the game, the better he played. He shot more than 68 percent from the field and started to demand double teams. Can't wait to see what he does over the next year.”
Prior to the state tournament, McBride said the team statistically did not look good after the first 10 games when the team was 8-2. At the same time, he said the team turned it around with the Pittsburg game and everything started to gel. After the season, McBride said the team just decided they wanted to be the best and that led to the turnaround.
“They just decided they wanted to be the best,” he said. “Sometimes as a coach, you really can't explain why kids do what they do. But I honestly believe they were finally done with just showing up, and they wanted to prove how good they really were. They knew after that game, and then they didn't relax. Practices were better and more intense after that for the rest of the season.”
With the season over, McBride and the Bobcats will say goodbye to five seniors – Coleman, Nolan Ford, Dylan Mussett, Kobe Sifford and Jace Friesen. McBride said this senior class will be known for being the ultimate sacrifice kids. He said the seniors didn’t always like that they had a role, but in their final year they bought in and did what the team needed. He pointed out that the team welcomed in two freshmen and did what they needed to do in order to become one of the best teams in the state.
“I get emotional every time I think about them and how I will miss all of what they did for the program,” McBride said. “I hope the young guys take the torch and continue on this tradition.”
Looking ahead to next season, the coach said you never know what a new year will bring but the team has four returning players with experience. He said the freshmen will find out that being the sole focus of the scouting report will be rough. He also said next year’s seniors in Davila and Connor Younger will need to improve on weaknesses as the younger players learn and catch up.
“I can say this,” McBride said. “We have 13 straight winning seasons. We have five state appearances in those 13 years and we have two rings and two second-place finishes. The expectation is to get to state and give us a shot to win it all. Those expectations are still there and the group coming back next year has the talent to get back there. The cupboard is very full with young talent. So I am very excited, but let's enjoy what this senior class has done and let's make sure they know how much they are appreciated for a while. Many of my returning kids are playing club ball and are already back at it in the weight room. We will get started on May 28.”