Chieftains escape BLHS with win
The Chieftains escaped Rivalry Week.
After rallying from a rare halftime deficit Jan. 23 and winning against Basehor-Linwood on its home court, the Tonganoxie High girls basketball squad traveled three days later to Basehor on Friday for a second match-up with its rival.
In a low-scoring contest, Tonganoxie escaped Basehor-Linwood with a 26-24 victory and improved to 13-0 on the season. The Chieftains still are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
"Any win's a good win," THS coach Randy Kraft said. "Obviously we would have liked to have a little more offensive production. It was a defensive battle the whole night."
After a December cancellation due to weather, the two teams were forced to have rare back-to-back games against each other. The Jan. 23 game was rescheduled from its original December date, while Friday's game was set on the original schedule.
The results of the two games could similarly haunt the sleep of the Bobcats.
Basehor-Linwood fought undefeated Tonganoxie all the way to the buzzer Friday night. A three-point shot at the buzzer for the win by Brooke Sanders bounced harmlessly off the back rim, sending the Lady Bobcats to defeat.
The heartbreaking loss came in short proximity to Tuesday's wrenching defeat, when the Bobcats led by eight points at halftime against the Chieftains, only to self destruct in the fourth quarter and lose 42-32.
"It hurts, really bad," BLHS forward Bren Koontz said. "To come so close to beating the top-ranked team, and then just falling short by two points, it gets to you. "To get that close, and lose like that, it gives you a confidence booster knowing that you can play with the first-rank team and have a chance to win, but at the same time, it doesn't feel good."
Both offenses were stagnant early. The first points in the game weren't scored until 5:07 left in the first quarter. Basehor-Linwood didn't even attempt its first field goal until the 4:30 mark in the first. The Bobcats had turned the ball over on every possession until that point.
THS held a 4-0 lead when BLHS got on the board, with 1:58 left in the first.
"The defense on both teams was very tight," Koontz said.
BLHS coach Tami Holthus said it was not in the pre-game plans to slow the game down.
"We were just going to play and take what they gave us," Holthus said. "They pride themselves on their man defense, and they were packing the lane, almost like a zone look. We finally worked our way through that and figured out how to attack it a little better."
Tonganoxie led by five, 21-16, after the third quarter.
In the fourth, and the Chieftains leading, 24-20 with 23.9 seconds left in the game, the Bobcats hit a jumper to get within two. The Chieftains converted one of two free throws after a quick foul to push it to three. BLHS then took the ball the length of the court and hit a runner with 12 seconds left, slicing the lead to one, 25-24.
THS forward Ali Pistora, the team's leading scorer with 11, was fouled with 9.6 seconds left. She missed the first and converted the second. Tonganoxie was up by two.
The last possession culminated in an open three-point look for the Bobcats, but the home team couldn't convert.
Tonganoxie was spurred by an impressive evening at the line. The Chieftains were 8-for-10 from the stripe, including hitting their first eight. BLHS was 5-for-10.
"They shoot free throws very well," Holthus said. "They beat us from the free-throw line this week. We need to get better from the free-throw line."
THS and Basehor-Linwood conceivably could play a third time -- in 4A substate action Feb. 26-March 3 in Tonganoxie.
THS played Immaculata on Tuesday in Tonganoxie and will be off Friday, a welcome reprieve according to Kraft.
"Yeah, our kids really need it with tournament week," Kraft said, referring to the Tonganoxie Invitational Jan. 15-20. "And even though we played three games that week, all the kids were busy helping out with the games.
"We're needing just a little bit of down time."
Tonganoxie will return to action Tuesday with a game at Santa Fe Trail before hosting Lansing on Feb. 9.
-- Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story