Bonner snaps 48-game THS league string
The experts always say it's good for college basketball teams to lose a game before entering the NCAA Tournament known as March Madness.
Thanks to a maddening third quarter last Friday night in Bonner Springs, the Tonganoxie High School girls basketball team now will be able to find out if the popular theory applies to high school hoops, as well.
Despite owning a five-point halftime lead and digging deep to unleash a ferocious fourth-quarter rally, a 20-4 third-quarter deficit proved to be too much for the Chieftains to overcome. They watched their bid for a perfect season fall at the hands of a Bonner Springs team that had come close to pulling off upsets against THS in the past few seasons.
But this marked the first time the Braves actually accomplished the feat, snapping an impressive Tonganoxie streak.
The Chieftains had won 48 consecutive Kaw Valley League games. THS shared the KVL title in 2003-04 with then-league member De Soto and won back-to-back outright titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
This season, Tonganoxie again is in the driver's seat for a fourth straight KVL title if it wins out this week.
Still, that doesn't provide consolation to a team that had a chance to go undefeated in the regular season.
"Obviously no one took it very well," THS coach Randy Kraft said about the game. "Basically it's a loss. It doesn't end our season, but it is a loss and we have to learn from what we did wrong in this game, and hopefully it makes us better in the next couple of weeks."
Friday, there was no savior for Tonganoxie, only a disappointing 47-44 final on the scoreboard.
The game was typical of the recent rivalry that has developed between the two teams. Bonner Springs was hyped up for the contest and came out hot. Tonganoxie, on the other hand, started slow and used the first eight minutes to get into the game. At the end of the first quarter, the Braves led 9-8 despite shooting just 3-for-17 from the floor.
"We weren't doing bad," Kraft said. "We were pretty flat all night. We were just not on top of our game the whole night."
The Chieftains shot considerably better than the Braves from the field but struggled at the free-throw line, knocking down just 4-of-8 from the charity stripe in the opening frame.
The game stayed close for most of the second quarter, but a 7-0 run by Tonganoxie in the final three minutes of the half pushed the contest from a 15-15 tie to a 22-15 Lady Chieftains' lead.
Elizabeth Baska opened the run with a three-pointer from the wing with 3:01 to play. Baska followed the three-pointer by scoring twice in the post after consecutive BSHS turnovers, and THS quickly led by seven.
BSHS senior Tiffany Starks scored on a runner at the buzzer to cut the margin to five at the half, but Tonganoxie's 14-8 second-quarter advantage gave the 17-0 Lady Chieftains control of the game.
That changed quickly in the third quarter, however, as Bonner Springs opened with a 7-1 run and took a 24-23 lead just 2:20 into the quarter. From there, the Braves continued to add to their run, which ballooned to 14-2 before Tonganoxie senior Rebecca Bogard knocked down a jump shot to cut the score from 31-24 to 31-26 with three minutes to play in the third. Six straight points from BSHS at the end of the quarter pushed the Braves' lead to double digits, and Tonganoxie trailed 37-26 at the end of three.
"That third quarter, they hit several shots and we went cold for a while," Kraft said.
In the fourth, the Chieftains turned things up a notch on both ends of the floor. Senior Ali Pistora opened the final quarter with a three-pointer from the wing, and the Chieftains ripped off a 9-2 run in the first 3:34 of the final quarter to cut the BSHS lead down to four, 39-35, with 4:26 to play.
The lead hovered around four points for the next three minutes until Tonganoxie's Christy Weller brought the Lady Chieftains to within two, 43-41, with a jumper with 1:45 to play.
On the ensuing BSHS possession, junior Felisha Leipard went to the free throw line but missed the front end of a one-and-one and Tonganoxie took possession, down two with 1:29 to play.
The Chieftains had three chances to tie or take the lead down the stretch, but a turnover on their first possession, an air ball on their second crack and a missed three-pointer and fifth foul on Pistora on the third attempt sealed their fate.
Foul trouble was a factor throughout the game, as Pistora and Shannon Carlin both picked up early fouls and were forced to the bench at various points throughout the contest.
Despite the setback, THS remains in great shape for a run in the postseason.
Kraft talked about the conference winning streak that spanned four seasons and nearly reached 50 games.
"That's pretty long; I had no idea it was near that long," Kraft said. "I guess we'll have to start a new streak.
"Hopefully we just build on this and don't let it happen again."
Pistora led THS in scoring with 13 points. Baska added 12, Rebecca Bogard chipped in eight and Weller finished with five. Rachel Bogard scored four for THS.
Felisha Leipard led BSHS with 16 points and Tiffany Starks added 11. Kelsey Stanbrough and Christina Delladio, the Braves' leading scorers heading into the game, combined to score just five points.
Tonganoxie fell to 17-1 overall and 10-1 in the KVL.
Despite the loss, Tonganoxie will be the No. 1 seed when Class 4A substate tournaments begin next week. THS likely will play St. James Academy of Lenexa, which is 7-10 on the season.
The Chieftains finish out the regular season with a game Friday at Shawnee against Mill Valley.
Tonganoxie also played Tuesday at home against Bishop Ward, but the game did not meet The Mirror's deadline.
Long bus trip
Heavy snow made for a long trip from Tonganoxie to Bonner Springs last Friday. Kraft said trip took about 40 minutes because of the weather.
The team normally arrives at games at the start of the junior varsity boys game but arrived just before halftime, so players had to quickly change into their warm-ups for to shoot at halftime of the boys game.
Chieftains drop Pirates
Tonganoxie rolled through visiting Piper on Thursday on Senior Night at THS.
The Chieftains won, 62-33, as Pistora led all scorers with 17, while Baska and Rebecca Bogard each scored 14.
Bonner Springs 47, Tonganoxie 44
Score by quarters
Tonganoxie 8 14 4 18 -- 44
Bonner Springs 9 8 20 10 -- 47
Tonganoxie -- Weller 5, Pistora 13, Baska 12 Carlin 2, Re. Bogard 8, Ra. Bogard 4.
Bonner Springs -- Starks 11, Leipard 16, Dealladio 2, Ostman 8, Stanbrough 3, Lane 7.
Tonganoxie 62, Piper 33
(score by quarters not available)
Tonganoxie -- Pistora 17, Baska 14, Re. Bogard 14, Weller 8, Jeannin 6, Carlin 3.
Piper -- Nichols 9, Selbe 8, Sutter 6, Brewer 4, Fearing 3, Lasley 3.
-- Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story.