Tonganoxie returns from layoff with rout of PHS
Tonganoxie High coach Randy Kraft is considering reducing the number of girls basketball practices in a week from four to one after Monday's 74-29 win against Piper in the first round of the Eudora Tournament.
"We haven't had an official practice since last Tuesday," Kraft said, as Nov. 28 was their last practice because a winter storm forced school officials to cancel school for the latter part of the week. "Maybe that's the key; maybe we need to practice less."
Kraft made the comment with a big grin on his face. He, of course, was kidding, but the Chieftains didn't look all that rusty against the Pirates.
Sure, THS missed its first few free throws, but the Chieftains eventually warmed up from the line.
As for its ability to score field goals, that wasn't an issue. Tonganoxie scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back. The Chieftains led 19-4 after the first quarter and 41-11 at halftime.
Tonganoxie's pressing defense, which has become the team's trademark ability in recent years, gave Piper fits, while the run-and-gun offense was in full-gear as well.
Of course Kraft, who also is a teacher at THS, wasn't ready to give his team gold stars for their performance.
"I told the kids I gave us a B, B-plus," Kraft said.
The bigger story Monday, however, was the return of Elizabeth Baska, whose season ended late last February when she injured her knee against Basehor-Linwood. The injury required off-season surgery, which forces Baska to wear a brace when she competes.
"I think she got off to a good start," Kraft said about her performance Monday.
Baska scored 15 on the night, second only to Rachel Bogard, who tallied 17. Rebecca Bogard also was in double figures with 10.
Kraft has been impressed with Baska in that she doesn't favor the knee, which he's said can be more of a psychological issue.
In addition, Baska played many minutes at the point position, something the post player hasn't handled often in previous years.
"She made smart decisions," Kraft said.
Baska admitted she had a slight case of the nerves before the game, but she was eager, more than anything, to play in the season opener against Piper.
And, she played volleyball in the fall, so she's been active in game situations since the injury last season.
"It's been a good eight months since I've played a (basketball) game, so I was ready," Baska said.
As for playing as a guard rather than at post, the junior is going with the flow.
"I'm getting comfortable," Baska said. "I've been a post pretty much all my life. I'm just going with it."
Other top scorers against Piper were juniors Christy Weller with nine, Tracie Hileman with eight and Shannon Carlin with five. Senior Ali Pistora scored six, but played sparingly as she continues to recover from illness.
Tonganoxie (1-0) played Bishop Ward on Tuesday in the semifinals and will play again Thursday, either in the third-place game or the championship of the Eudora Tournament. Tuesday's game did not meet the Mirror's deadline, but to learn more about that game and the rest of the tournament, log on to The Mirror's Web site, www.tonganoxiemirror.com.
Tonganoxie 74, Piper 29
Piper -- Hotujac 1, Nichols 8, Sutter 2, Smith 7, Selbe 11.
Tonganoxie -- Hileman 8, Weller 9, Pistora 6, Baska 15, Ostermeyer 2, Carlin 5, Jeannin 2, Ra. Bogard 17, Re. Bogard 10.