Bishop Seabury boys not satisfied with just making it to state tourney again
photo by: Carter Gaskins
Bishop Seabury’s boys basketball team has a chance to go wire-to-wire for the season by winning three games this week in the Class 2A state tournament.
The Seahawks were one of five teams in the state — along with Topeka High (6A girls), Bishop Miege (4A girls), Central Plains (1A girls) and Piper (4A boys) — to be ranked No. 1 in their class in both the preseason rankings and the final rankings for the 2019-20 season. And Seabury is eager to prove that the lofty ranking isn’t just for show.
“We don’t play for rankings or anything like that,” Bishop Seabury coach Jonathan Raney said. “At the same time, we are the hunted and we expect to get everybody’s best shot as we have over the course of the season. I expect these guys to go out there and play like we are the best team in the state.”
Bishop Seabury (21-2), the No. 2 seed, will face No. 7 Valley Heights (18-6) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the Class 2A state tournament at Bramlage Coliseum. The Seahawks are the only team in the field that made it to the state tourney a year ago.
But BSA also understands — perhaps better than anyone — how fickle this event can be.
Bishop Seabury suffered a 63-61 overtime loss to eventual state champion Ness City in the opening round last year. Ness City won its next two games by a combined 17 points en route to a state title.
“I think we went into that game thinking it was our time,” senior Luke Hornberger said. “We really just got out-toughed, and things didn’t go our way.”
Last year’s loss has been a driving factor for the Seahawks. They put in the extra work in the offseason, spending most of their time playing basketball and getting better.
“It made us become more hungry and lock in on stuff more,” senior Cobe Green said. “We took the whole summer and worked on it and worked on what we thought we could do better on. As you can see this season, we did our thing.”
Green missed the state tournament last year after he found out that he had a condition known as a right anomalous coronary artery. He ended up having open-heart surgery about 10 months before the season opener, but he recovered in time to play, and he’s been a key part of Bishop Seabury’s explosive roster all year.
Green and juniors Zach Bloch and Stavian Jones make up Seabury’s dynamic backcourt. They are all capable of scoring 20-plus points on any given night, and they get out in passing lanes with their full-court pressure defense.
Hornberger and sophomore Joao Carlos Ramirez control everything in the paint. It is a frontcourt that very few teams in Class 2A can rival, as Hornberger is 6-foot-5 and Ramirez is 6-foot-7.
It has all led to a 14-game win streak for the Seahawks entering the state tournament.
“We are more experienced,” Hornberger said. “I think our chemistry is a lot better on the court; we have really been working on that. Trying to work better as a whole and not just individual pieces.”
Because of all that, Bishop Seabury is not satisfied with just making it to the state tournament this season. The Seahawks have an expectation of playing on the final day of the season, which is a standard that was set by former head coach Ashley Battles when he guided the team to its highest finish in program history — third place — in 2017.
The Seahawks won’t be taking any opponent lightly, of course, but they know their aspirations are much bigger than playing just one game in Bramlage Coliseum.
“I want them to enjoy the experience,” Raney said. “At the same time, we do have higher expectations. It is nice to be in a situation where just getting to state isn’t good enough. The expectations at Bishop Seabury are higher, as they should be.”