Olathe It was a three-adverb night for Free State's girls basketball team.
The Firebirds were really and truly and definitely dreadful particularly in the first half while suffering a 63-32 thumping from Shawnee Heights in the first round of the Olathe East Invitational on Thursday night.
"There will be growing pains," said Free State coach Craig Hershiser who has only two players who had varsity experience with the Firebirds last year.
Hershiser had seen plenty of positives in the Firebirds' season-opening 62-40 win over Kansas City Wyandotte a week ago.
Then in the first half against Shawnee Heights, Hershiser saw the Firebirds commit 17 turnovers and miss 16 of 17 shots while digging a 23-7 hole at the break. Free State's only first-half basket was a three-pointer by Lauren Wright early in the second quarter. Otherwise, Free State had four free throws.
"We got a little frantic," senior guard Stacie Garland said of the Firebirds' first-half flop. "We weren't taking the best shots because we were trying to score so bad."
Added Hershiser: "We were out of sync. We were disrupted."
Heights, which had opened last week with a 10-point loss to Topeka High, may have not had the Firebirds' complete attention.
"There are some things we need to understand," Hershiser said. "One is the kind of intensity it takes to play against a quality opponent, and another is playing team defense."
Only in the third quarter did the Firebirds compete. They were outscored 17-16 during those eight minutes, but they were competitive.
"At times we understood what we needed to do," Hershiser said, "and at times we didn't. And Heights made us pay for it."
Hershiser had more point production from three players off the bench (17) than he did from his five starters (15). Amber Hinton, a 5-foot-9 junior, had a team-high eight points in a reserve role.
Jayme Lisher, a 5-foot-8 junior who scored 16 points in the win over Wyandotte, struggled with foul trouble and settled for three points. With Lisher on the bench in the fourth quarter, Heights owned the paint.
The rematch with the Bulldogs will be at 5:30 p.m. today in the O-East auxiliary gym.