Girls ward off end of season
Kansas city, Kan.
Stop Ashley Baska.
Those three words, while not the exact transcript of John Lee's halftime speech, sum up his message.
In the first half of Tonganoxie's substate win Monday at Bishop Ward High School, Baska was devastating on offense.
After a first quarter of tight defense by both teams, the score was tied, 6-6. Baska exploded for 11 points in the second quarter, hitting three consecutive three point shots including one as the first half ended.
Despite playing good defense except on Baska the Chieftains trailed by four at halftime, 19-15.
Stop Ashley Baska.
Ward began the third quarter with the ball. The Chieftains ran two defenders at Baska and trapped her when she caught her first pass. Keri Walker stole the ball when Baska put it over her head.
The girls had heard Lee's halftime message and harried Baska all over the court during the second half.
She missed all of her shots and fouled out with 1:26 left in the game. Ward scored only eight second-half points against a hustling, trapping Tonganoxie defense.
Meanwhile, in the third quarter, Andrea Korb took over the Tonganoxie offense.
With 3:52 remaining in the third quarter and Tonganoxie trailing by five, Korb hit one of two free throws.
A pull up jump shot high in the lane and a layup off a feed from Aimee Eisman tied the game. Korb hit two more free throws after trying to follow a miss by Marcy Dodge.
With 7:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, Korb caught a pass from Jill Stauch and was fouled under the basket trying to shoot. She made one of two. Tonganoxie led 26-25 and would never trail again.
Korb finished with 11 points. Deaven Workman had eight and hit a big second-quarter three point shot that
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kept the game close while Baska was hot.
Jill Stauch had seven including three fourth-quarter free throws. Aimee Eisman had six, and Sara Poje scored two.
The win was the third in two weeks for the Chieftains. Lee was excited about the team's prospects as it continues substate play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Spring Hill against Piper.
"Anything can happen from now on out," Lee said. "Nothing's set in stone."
He's telling the girls that seeds and records don't matter when its basketball tourney time.
"There's no other sport like it," Lee said.
The teams played in an old gymnasium at Ward. The crowd seats were about seven feet above the court which was surrounded by close, concrete walls. The benches were tucked under the stands at midcourt. The dead spots in the floor were audible from the stands.
The concrete walls and ceilings reflected the cheers of the medium-sized but enthusiastic crowd.
The Tonganoxie fans matched the vocal enthusiasm of the Ward fans, and by late in the game, the cacophony of sounds had turned into one large cheer for girls basketball.
Prior to last week, Lee's outlook wasn't so good. A disappointing loss to DeSoto left him questioning the team's resolve.
But wins against Perry-Lecompton Feb. 22 and Basehor-Linwood Friday have rejuvenated the team.
While the team has seven seniors who have played for Lee since they were freshman, they don't always get to play.
He praised their continued dedication to helping the team despite a rotation that includes several younger players.
"They take their roles," Lee said of the seniors. "They're absolutely wonderful."
Junior varsity notes
The junior varsity girls finished their season with two wins.
The team won 43-29 against Perry-Lecompton and 38-30 against Basehor-Linwood.
After a slow start, the team finished 10-6.
Erin O'Brien scored 13 against Basehor-Linwood. Laura Korb scored nine, including eight points in the fourth quarter.
"We improved a lot," said Leslie Foster, junior varsity coach.