Seahawks aim to clean up defensive issues in quest for state tourney berth
photo by: Carter Gaskins
Bishop Seabury head coach Jonathan Raney wasn’t interested in talking about his offense after scoring a season-high 96 points in the sub-state opener. Raney was more concerned with how to fix things on the other side of the floor.
Following a 96-63 win over Heritage Christian Academy, Raney had a lengthy discussion with his team in the locker room about just that. While the Seahawks were once again electric on the offensive end, Raney stressed the importance of focusing on the defensive end in the postseason.
“This can easily wake us up and lock us back in,” Raney said. “It can refocus us like we need or we can come out on Friday and not play good defense, and our postseason will be pretty short. I don’t think the guys want that. In a one-game deal, all it takes is one bad night.”
Bishop Seabury (19-2, No. 1 in Class 2A) is still two wins away from returning to the Class 2A state tournament, though it won’t be an easy path. BSA will face Mission Valley (14-6) at 6 p.m. Friday at Lyndon High School in the sub-state semifinals. Like Bishop Seabury, Mission Valley qualified for the state tournament a year ago.
If the Seahawks were to advance, they might have to face host Lyndon (No. 7 in Class 2A) in the sub-state title game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Tigers, who are the No. 2 seed in the bracket with an 18-3 record, are looking for their first trip to the state tournament since 2013.
Of those three teams, Lyndon leads the way with 12 state tourney appearances in program history. Mission Valley has three such appearances, while Bishop Seabury has made all four of its trips to the state tournament since 2012.
“It is a tough bracket,” Raney said. “We need to get a whole lot better and get back to the defensive intensity that we have shown over the last couple weeks of the season.”
Like Raney said, in order to hoist the sub-state championship plaque on Saturday, the Seahawks will have to clean up some of their mistakes defensively. It is something that Heritage Christian Academy brought to light Tuesday.
After winning the first meeting with HCA by an 83-37 margin on Feb. 25, the rematch was much closer for three quarters. And that’s because Heritage Christian connected on a dozen 3-pointers while shooting 18-for-45 from the floor.
The Seahawks gave up double digits in each of the first three periods, including 26 points in the third quarter. Bishop Seabury originally hoped to limit its opponent to fewer points than it did in the first meeting, but it didn’t take long to realize that wouldn’t be the case.
“We gave up (63) points; that’s too many,” BSA senior Cobe Green said. “In a lot of high school games, that wins games. (We need) energy on the bench and on the court and communication. I thought we were kind of quiet. Those are the things we need to focus on.”
The good news for the Seahawks is that they know they are capable of playing well on the defensive end. Bishop Seabury held Pembroke Hill to just 46 points in the regular-season finale. BSA didn’t allow any opponent to score more than 47 points over the final 10 games of the regular season.
Thanks to the athleticism across the floor, Bishop Seabury can pile up the steals with its full-court pressure defense. Green is often at the forefront of those turnovers, but juniors Zach Bloch and Stavian Jones are also constantly in the passing lanes.
“We do a lot of defensive stuff in practice, so I think we should be good,” Bloch said. “We have to make sure that translates on Friday.”
When teams do get in half-court situations, the length of senior Luke Hornberger and sophomore Joao Carlos Ramirez can usually deter teams from attacking the rim. Sam Bayliss and Sam Hertzog also provide valuable defensive minutes off the bench.
And the key to playing in Bramlage Coliseum next week will be making sure the Seahawks can return to that level of defensive play this weekend.
“Our preparation needs to be really good over the next couple days,” Raney said. “It is up to each and every one of us to make sure our season continues.”
Other area teams in sub-state title games this weekend
Class 4A girls
No. 1 Eudora (19-2) vs. No. 8 Paola (12-9), 7 p.m. Friday
No. 5 Baldwin (16-5) at No. 4 Labette County (17-4), 6 p.m. Friday
Class 4A boys
No. 9 Eudora (10-11) at No. 1 Parsons (20-1), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 6 Tonganoxie (12-9) at No. 3 Bishop Miege (17-4), 6 p.m. Saturday
Class 6A boys
No. 3 Lawrence High (17-4) vs. No. 6 Wichita Southeast (15-6), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 4 Free State (16-5) vs. No. 5 Topeka High (16-5), 6 p.m. Saturday