Chieftains fight back, but lose to Bobcats in opener
It’s never an easy game when the Tonganoxie High girls play Basehor-Linwood in basketball, and Friday’s meeting at THS was no different.
The Bobcats trailed for only 3:16 of the game — and that came during the first quarter — but they never quite managed to shake the Chieftains. The Bobcats built eight-point leads on multiple occasions only to see Tonganoxie battle back.
Ultimately, Basehor-Linwood prevailed, 41-38.
“It’s hard to base either team when we play each other because we have such a rivalry and the kids play hard,” THS coach Randy Kraft said. “Usually our games are a little lower-scoring than normal just because definitely both teams get after it pretty hard. That’s pretty typical of that one.”
The Bobcats scored the first four points of the game on buckets by Victoria Smith and Jamie Johnson, but Tonganoxie answered with a 6-0 run as Jenny Whitledge scored on a put-back and Tavia Brown had back-to-back layups. After Johnson tied the game with a 17-footer, Brown converted a three-point play and gave the Chieftains a 9-6 lead. Basehor-Linwood closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run, however. Maggie Hattock’s 3-pointer in the final seconds boosted the lead to 13-9, and it appeared the Bobcats were taking control.
BLHS then scored the first four points of the second quarter as Smith scored on a layup on Cara McCarty’s drive and dish, and then Johnson had a steal and coast-to-coast layup. The Bobcats maintained their eight-point lead for a while, but soon Tonganoxie’s full-court man-to-man defense caught up with them. The Bobcats turned the ball over four times against the press in the final five minutes of the half, and Whitledge put the Chieftains on her shoulders by scoring six of their final seven points of the half to cut the Basehor-Linwood lead to just 24-20.
A bucket by Bailey Hooker on the first possession of the third quarter appeared to give the Bobcats some renewed momentum, but Tonganoxie answered right back with some hard work on the backboard. After misses by Hannah Kemp and Haley Smith, the third try was the charm for Emma Stilgenbauer as she brought THS back within four. A jumper by Cara McCarty and a free throw by Johnson pushed the Bobcats’ lead back to seven at 29-22, but the Chieftains again stormed back. Kemp buried a baseline jumper and later drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key during a 7-4 run that brought THS within 33-29 entering the fourth quarter.
Johnson drained an 18-footer early in the fourth quarter, and then she made a steal and assist on a layup by Amber Garver as the Bobcats opened up a 37-29 lead with 6:24 to go in the game. Out of a timeout, Tonganoxie battled right back as Madee Walker swished a trey from the left wing. Then Kemp made a steal and coast-to-coast layup to pull THS within 37-34 with 4:38 to go.
From there, the Bobcats hung on for dear life. Tonganoxie’s pressure defense gave BLHS problems, but the Bobcats’ zone was equally effective at keeping the Chieftains at bay.
A 17-footer by Johnson and a free throw by Victoria Smith pushed the lead back to six points late, but a bucket by Brown kept THS close. Johnson tacked on a free throw with 16 seconds left for some extra insurance. Whitledge answered with a put-back at the other end, but the ball went through the net as time expired and Tonganoxie’s comeback bid came up just short.
“It was a typical first game,” Kraft said. “We played well at times, just didn’t play consistent enough. We didn’t shoot the ball as well as I think we can.
“Probably first-game jitters. We turned the ball over a little too much. Overall I thought our performance was pretty good. Something to build on. I know we’ll get a lot better.”
Basehor-Linwood improved to 1-1 with the victory. Tonganoxie fell to 0-1.
Tavia Brown led THS in scoring with 13, while Jenny Whitledge also was in double figures with 10. Hannah Kemp scored 7 and Emma Stilgenbauer 5. Walker had 3 points, rounding out the Chieftains’ scoring.
Kraft said the Chieftains rebounded pretty well, noting that THS outrebounded the visitors by 12 boards.
“That’s kind of what kept us in the game,” the coach said. “We didn’t shoot particularly well, but I know that will improve.”
Next up on the schedule is Bishop Ward, but the two teams won’t square off until Tuesday.
“It gives us a chance to reevaluate and work on some things,” Kraft said about the long break between games. “On the other hand, it’s just one game and you’d like to get back on the horse right after you have one.
“But it is what it is. And we’ll just try to work through that stuff in practice.”
Basehor-Linwood 41, THS 38
SCORE BY QUARTERS
BLHS 13 11 9 8 — 41
THS 9 11 9 9 — 38
BASEHOR-LINWOOD — Jamie Johnson 7-18 3-6 17, Bailey Hooker 4-8 0-0 8, Maggie Hattock 3-7 0-0 7, Victoria Smith 2-3 1-3 5, Cara McCarty 1-3 0-0 2, Amber Garver 1-3 0-0 2, Alex Gorman 0-4 0-0 0.
TONGANOXIE — Tavia Brown 6-8 1-3 13, Jenny Whitledge 3-13 4-8 10, Hannah Kemp 3-9 0-2 7, Emma Stilgenbauer 2-4 1-2 5, Madee Walker 1-6 0-0 3, Haley Smith 0-6 0-0 0, Katelyn Waldeier 0-3 0-0 0.
— Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story.