Coming off a championship run in the Topeka Invitational Tournament and playing its fourth game in six days, Lawrence High was bound to be down for a non-league clash with Washburn Rural.
Then, mysteriously, the Lions hit 10 of 17 shots including five of 10 three-pointers in the first quarter on their way to a 69-63 boys basketball win over the Junior Blues at the LHS gym.
"There's no way to explain it," senior guard Michael Cosey said. "Everyone was just hitting."
Everyone, that is, but leading scorer Maurice Trotter, who was held to four first-half points by Washburn Rural's zone defense.
"We thought, from all the scouting reports from people who'd seen them, that was one of their weaknesses," Rural coach Jeff Stromgren said. "Then they came out tonight and hit everything they threw up there."
AS THE JUNIOR Blues collapsed inside on defense, LHS bombed away. Cosey hit seven of nine shots and scored a game-high 18 points. Teammate Brandon Hamm hit seven of 10 to tie Cosey with 18 points and set a career high.
"I think it was Cosey who launched that first one, and the closest guy wasn't even within five feet of him," Hamm said. "I just went out and started shooting. When I made the first one, I felt it. It felt good."
Hamm came in averaging just 33 percent from the floor, so coach Ron Weber felt good watching his senior guard bang them in.
"We've been telling him all season long we have confidence in him that he can do that," Weber said. "He's just got to come out relaxed, and if he has his shoulders square and his feet set, that's a good shot for him."
It's a good thing the Lions nailed them early and built a 27-13 lead after one quarter, because Washburn Rural whittled steadily at their lead the rest of the way. Lawrence led by 12 at halftime and by nine after the third quarter. Its lead was as little as four as late as 1:01.
"THEY OUTPLAYED us the second half," Weber said. "We didn't do a good job rebounding all night. I think a lot of it was just mental fatigue."
Trotter wound up with nine points and 10 rebounds, but no other Lion had more than four boards.
"That was the main thing," Hamm said. "They controlled the boards and got a lot of offensive rebounds. That was what got them back in it."