First-year girls coach seeks to return Bobcats to playing in March
Nov. 16: Meet the Bobcats
BLHS fans got their first glimpse of the 2012-13 girls and boys basketball teams on Friday as the two played a pair of scrimmages. The wrestling team will scrimmage at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27. Stay tuned to the Nov. 21 issue of the Sentinel for a basketball season preview section, followed by a wrestling preview on Nov. 28.
Jason Tatkenhorst may have had a chance to get to know his players briefly during the summer, but when the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team started practice this month, Tatkenhorst officially became “Coach”.
“Now it’s time for the players to do work,” he said. “I feel like the players are really trying hard (because) they know they have to make a good impression.
His inaugural practice on Nov. 12 wasn’t without its hesitations and uncertainties.
“The players have been well trained with past coaches and of course I’m used to going on court and having the team know what I want,” he said. “But since it’s my first year, I’m having to adjust as well and explain things a bit more.”
Tatkenhorst worked with the team during the summer for camp, summer league and weekly workouts. The Bobcats participated in two weekend tournaments and won more than they lost throughout the summer, Tatkenhorst said.
Tatkenhorst was hired in May following the announced departure of former coach Noah Simpson last season.
The Bobcats went 8-12 last year under Simpson, whose tenure included three state tournament appearances — including a third-place finish in the 2011 4A state tournament.
The familiarity and routine that the seniors had grown accustomed to throughout the last three seasons is being replaced by a different style.
“It’s just a different experience and I’m still getting used to it,” senior Samantha Rutherford said during the first week of practice. “He definitely has a different coaching style. It’s not bad it’s just more intense and he expects more out of us.”
Rutherford, who started playing a bigger role last year on varsity as a post player, said each player will get better focusing on the “little things” that Tatkenhorst stresses.
“The girls have a real good attitude and the first week was all about working on practice habits,” he said. “The first couple weeks of the preseason need to be hard and challenging.”
Taking over an already successful program and introducing something new hasn’t phased Tatkenhorst at all, who came into the job knowing what he’s picking up.
“The girls, the parents and the community all expect to have a chance to go to state and the expectations are high for this program,” he said. “I’m excited for that and I want to be in a program that has high expectations.”
Returning starter and leading scorer senior Jamie Johnson said she definitely wants to make it to state in her final season as a Bobcat.
“I have been to state (my) freshman and sophomore year and we didn’t go to state last year,” she said. “I want to win games (this year) and go far.”
Johnson, at guard, is coming back from a broken elbow suffered last year against Tonganoxie.
“It feels good,” Johnson said of her left arm. “I’m just ready for everybody to come together and play as a team and to show the coach that we are actually good.”
Tatkenhorst, a former head coach for 12 years in Great Bend, said he will stress man-to-man defense and playing the entire court.
In his 17th year of coaching, Tatkenhorst, a Kansas native and former player at Pratt Community College and Bethany College, said he hopes his new squad can look to him and know that he has been there before.
“I do feel like I have the experience, although coaches will always learn,” he said. “We (coaches) think we’ve been through it all but there’s always going to be some new situation out there.”
Tatkenhorst and his wife, Stacy, a special education teacher at BLHS, and their three boys, Kade and Kurtis, 13, and Kamden, 12, moved to Basehor this summer.
With a 228-128 overall record, what has worked in the past for Tatkenhorst is an aggressive offense and up-tempo game with players looking for the easy bucket and hoping to out-work the opponent.
Despite the missing height of graduated seniors Maggie Hattock, Cara McCarty and Bailey Hooker, the roster has a good balance behind seniors Kara Stephens, Johnson, and Rutherford.
“Each class below them has really a good balance, and I see good freshman and sophomores and three seniors that are good, committed players,” he said. “We definitely have a group of about seven girls that are a notch above everybody else.”
The Bobcats open the season on Nov. 30 against Bishop Ward.
“We hope to have a long season,” Tatkenhorst said. “And we want to be playing in March.”