Rally Cats fall short
The comeback was impressive and taking the lead was amazing, but the De Soto boys basketball team couldn't convert either bouncing back from a 20-7 first-quarter deficit or taking its first lead midway through the fourth quarter into a win.
The Wildcats saw their effort wasted and their season ended in a 55-46 loss at Bonner Springs in the first round of the sub-state tournament.
"They came out hot and hit some shots, then I think the pressure of knowing it's a one and down situation hit us a little bit early," De Soto coach Jim Bonar said. "It got away from us early, but I knew my boys would come back."
De Soto did come back, in a big way.
Bonner opened the game as if shot out of a cannon. The Braves were nearly flawless in extending a 15-3 lead and had stretched the advantage to 13 by the end of the first period.
"Coach really didn't flip out or any-thing," senior Scott McElvain said. "Everything was falling for them. That wasn't the team we expected to come out and play that way.
"We're actually pretty good because we don't freak out. We've been down a lot and we've had to pull ourselves back a lot."
De Soto scored just seven points in the first quarter and six in the second, more than doubling that total in the third quarter alone, but it was defense that allowed the Cats to make a run.
After being mauled inside and out, De Soto opted for a zone in the second quarter. The Braves shooters finally cooled, scoring just one basket in the period. With six minutes gone in the third quarter, Bonner had scored just nine points over a 14-minute span.
A Jake Morse 3-pointer one minute into the third quarter brought the Cats within eight, as close as they'd been since the game's opening minutes.
Taylor Burnett and JT Thompson each added two points and McElvain scored twice. He drew a foul on his second bucket -- a falling-away attempt the senior hurled from 15 feet that hung on the rim longer than seemed physically possible -- and after making the free throw, the Cats were just four points down.
"Even down four points I thought the momentum was totally our way," McElvain said. "They were having trouble with the 2-3 zone. As soon as our offense kicked in, that lead disappeared."
A Colby Childers-to-Burnett alley-oop cut the gap to two and another Thompson bucket -- this one a layup squeezed past a pair of Bonner defenders -- tied the score with six minutes, twenty seconds to play.
When Andre Linzy canned a 3-pointer at the 4:10 mark, De Soto claimed its first lead of the game.
"When it came time to make a move, everyone was passing, cutting, getting rebounds, getting free throws and they brought us back into this game," Bonar said. "It wasn't an individual effort."
Bonner eventually found a way to reignite its scoring engines, an effort that began and ended with Nick White.
A big, thick, 6-foot-4 senior, White was dominant in the first quarter, then held relatively in check. He took over in the fourth, however, breaking a 36-36 tie with 4:30 remaining, then grabbing an offensive rebound to give the Braves the lead for good, 41-39 with 3:01 left.
Anthony Brown splashed a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining, the Braves' first successful trey since the first quarter, and De Soto couldn't match the rejuvenated Bonner attack.
McElvain led the Cats with 13 and Burnett had nine. White dominated center stage, however, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.