THS boys to get rematch with Braves in sub-state opener
A few things have changed since Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs last squared off on the hardwood.
When the teams met on Jan. 8, the Chieftains claimed a 63-50 victory — part of a six-game win streak. The Braves, on the other hand, were amid a span of six losses in seven games. Since then, though, the fortunes have been somewhat reversed. BSHS went 5-5 in the second half of the season, while THS went just 2-8.
However, when sub-state competition opens tonight in the Chieftains’ gym, previous achievements will be thrown out the window.
After more than a week away from live competition, Tonganoxie (8-11) will play host to Bonner Springs (8-11) in opening round action at 6:30 p.m. The teams were supposed to wrap up their regular season schedules with a meeting Friday at BSHS, but the game was canceled due to inclement weather. Practice time has been limited for the Chieftains, who have had three snow days less than two weeks.
“We’ve been scrimmaging a lot to still keep a game feel, but it’s been tough because we don’t even know when we’re going to have practice,” senior John Lean said. “We’re just trying to stay focused and keeping a game atmosphere going in practice.”
The Braves put themselves in line for a higher sub-state seed with an upset of No. 2 seed Basehor-Linwood on Feb. 8, but fell into the bottom half of the bracket after losing their last two games. Meanwhile, THS did just enough down the stretch to force a tie in the standings. The Chieftains’ head-to-head win against BSHS guaranteed them a home game in the first round.
Coach Shawn Phillips’ squad has played teams closer than its record indicates, as two of its last three losses were by a combined five points. One of those losses came on a buzzer beater on Feb. 8 at top-seeded Piper.
“I feel like anybody in our sub-state is capable of winning it,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to play well. We can’t go out and play average. I think we’re capable of doing it, and if the guys have any pride at all, they’re going to fight for the opportunity.”
The Braves have also suffered some narrow defeats in recent weeks, as three of their last five losses have been by five points or less.
The winner of tonight’s game will advance to Thursday’s semifinal round, where it will face the winner of Piper and No. 8 Perry-Lecompton.
“I think a lot of it is going to come down to toughness because it’s not an ideal situation for anybody,” Phillips said. “Going over scouting reports, keeping that fresh in your mind, executing and playing hard, all that stuff will add up to what’s going to make you win.
“ I think we’re capable of doing it, and if the guys have any pride at all, they’re going to fight for the opportunity.”