Archive for Sunday, March 7, 1999

Free State girls’ season comes to end

March 7, 1999

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Olathe South's girls basketball team defeated Free State High one point at a time on Saturday night.

The Falcons hit 19 of 28 free throws compared to the Firebirds' 2-of-14 free-throw shooting in winning their Class 6A sub-state final at Olathe South.

"It was a nice win," Olathe South coach Steve Ingram said. "We didn't play real well. You've got to give Free State a lot of credit. They really came to play. They did a lot of good things. If they could have hit some free throws, they could have won the game, I think."

Free State (9-13) -- which lost at Olathe South (19-3) by 39 points, 62-23, earlier this year -- trailed by just four points at 39-35 with 2:48 remaining after senior Caley Vaughan's short jumper.

But the Falcons closed on a 9-3 run, with all of their points coming from the charity stripe, to earn a berth in next week's state tournament in Emporia.

"Our effort was outstanding," FSHS coach Craig Hershiser said. "We ran our game plan the way that we wanted to, and that was to dictate the tempo, handle the ball on offense, keep our turnovers limited and play some solid defense. I thought that we did that.

"A couple more field goals and a better night at the free-throw line and we might be talking about preparations for next weekend."

Needless to say, the Firebirds were anything but distraught about falling 10 points shy of a state berth.

"I am not disappointed at all," Vaughan said. "I am so happy with our effort. Everyone went out there and tried really hard. We all did our best. We all rallied together. We lost by like 38 or 40 to them last time.

"To be behind by four points in the last three minutes is a really big achievement."

Vaughan, one of seven seniors wearing a Free State uniform for the final time, came off the bench to lead the Firebirds in scoring with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

"I was really psyched up for the game," Vaughan said. "I just set myself up to be really intense tonight. This was my last game of the season -- and last organized game I'll ever play in my life -- so I wanted to leave it all out on the court."

Someone else who left it all out on the court, including some of her blood, was sophomore Katie Rhodes.

Rhodes, who had to change jerseys from her traditional No. 33 to No. 23 because a dive on the floor left her with a bleeding elbow, scored just seven points but sparked the Firebirds' defense with four steals.

"We're pretty proud of the way that we played because they beat us by 40 last time and they only beat us by 10 tonight," Rhodes said. "I think we were more intense. We wanted to get the ball and play as hard as we could."

The good news for the Firebirds is that they return a solid nucleus next season, including sophomore starters Rhodes, Lauren Wilkinson and Joyia Chadwick as well as their top reserve, sophomore Kristin Bock. Chadwick and Bock chipped in seven points apiece on Saturday night.

"We'll have something to build on," Rhodes said. "We'll be able to play harder and maybe even go farther next year. We'll have something to work for. We know that it is possible for us to win and maybe we'll be able to do better next year."

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