Boys take pride in changing tradition
De Soto senior Scott McElvain wasn't crying or depressed following his final high school game.
The Wildcats lost in the first round of the sub-state playoffs, falling at Bonner Springs 55-46, and looking back on the season McElvain could only marvel and how good everything had gone.
"For me, just hearing everything about last year, just what a different team this year was -- I can't tell you how many people said how different the team chemistry is," McElvain said.
Honestly, McElvain -- one of three brothers that transferred in and had an immediate impact positive effect on the team -- never saw the old Wildcats, but it'd be hard to argue the new Cats weren't a major improvement.
De Soto finished 11-10 this season under first-year coach Jim Bonar. It proved a major improvement on last season's 6-15 record.
"It took us a few games to get into the mode, then we had a chance to win ever game," McElvain said. "That was exciting to see. Making it a competitive team this year, that was exciting to see."
It was exciting at times. Opening the season with an at-times ugly three-game losing streak, De Soto found its form and bounced back, evening its record before the winter break and staying above .500 through much of the second half of the season.
Bonar's style of play represented a new system in De Soto, and he had mostly new players to run it. Taylor Burnett was the leading returner offered the team a degree of stability in the post. Burnett was second in the team in points, averaging 11.3 and was second in rebounds with 6.48 a game.
But the 2005-2006 season was about new beginnings, and headlining that theme was McElvain. The 6-foot-6 senior point guard led the team with 13.6 points a game and 9.3 rebounds.
"Everyone's always getting someone move in," Bonar said. "But I'm glad (the McElvains) came, not just because they're good players, but they're good kids. They were well liked."
Burnett and McElvain's supporting cast was also filled mostly with fresh faces, and Bonar said that's what will stick out most his first Wildcat team.
Jake Morse, a sophomore guard who literally had to be talked into playing his first organized basketball since eight grade, led the team in 3-pointers, hitting 21 and averaging 5.9 points a game.
Andre Linzy, also a sophomore, barely even touched the junior varsity team last season. He finished third on the varsity team with 6.8 points a game this season, dropping 20 treys and grabbing 42 steals, second only to McElvain's 48.
JT Thompson, a junior, and Colby Childers, a senior, both started throughout the season after barely seeing the varsity team a year ago.
"We had to blend Scott and Taylor's varsity experience with a bunch of guys that didn't have any. That's a big reason we started out 0-3," Bonar said. "When you really look at what we had coming back with experience, we did very well."