Last week, Olathe North coach Bob Duncan joked about hoping snow would cancel the Eagles' basketball game with Lawrence High.
It snowed, all right, but only after O-North's last-second 63-62 loss to the Lions.
This week, Shawnee Mission North coach Sean Reilly joked about wanting an illness to descend on LHS.
Barring any last-minute outbreaks, it seems Reilly's wish is going the same way as Duncan's. The Lions enter their Friday night match with the Indians nearly full strength.
Tipoff is approximately 7:30 p.m. at the SM North gym. The junior varsity game starts at 6.
"I'M JUST HOPING a case of influenza hits Lawrence," Reilly quipped. "We don't match up with them at all. They have super-quick guards, and they're not gigantic but they've got some big people. There are a lot of combinations there."
The number of combinations just went up. Travis Green, a 6-foot-5 senior who started the first five games at center, likely will return against the Indians. He has been sidelined since Dec. 21, when he injured a knee in Lawrence's 74-60 loss to Leavenworth.
His likely return, LHS coach Ron Weber said, should make the Lions' height advantage even more profound. Center Bill Freund, 6-3, is SM North's only starter over 6-2.
"We've got a height advantage. We've got to understand we should be crashing the boards, dominating inside," Weber said. "It used to be our guards were playing well. Against Olathe North, our big men played well. If we can coordinate that, if we can get them all playing well, we'll be a pretty darn good team."
The Lions (4-3 overall, 2-2 in the Sunflower League) are pretty darn better at home. Their four wins have come at the LHS gym; their three losses on the road.
"WE NEED a win on the road," Weber said. "Once we break our losing streak on the road, I think we'll be able to go into the Topeka Invitational Tournament with a little confidence. Shawnee Mission North will be a big test for us."
Reilly said the same thing about the Lions. SM North enters 5-3 overall, 1-1 in the league.
"I see Lawrence as one of the better teams in the league," Reilly said. "They're very athletic, they have very good speed and they have some good shooters. If you let them get on a roll, they can zap you."
Weber said he has spent most of this week trying to zap the Lions' penchant for mid-game lulls. Against Olathe North, they blew a 13-point lead before winning it on Joel Schwartz's 15-foot jumper at the buzzer.
"WE NEEDED that," Weber said. "Sometimes life hands you something good. But we shouldn't have been in that position. We played well except for the first five minutes of the second half. You can't afford lulls like that, especially on the road."
The Lions will open in the Topeka Invitational on Tuesday. The fourth seed in their bracket, they'll meet top seed Topeka West at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Topeka High.