Olathe Free State started fast, but two slow quarters sent the FSHS girls basketball team to a sixth-place finish at the Olathe East Tip-off Classic.
The Firebirds took a five-point lead in the first quarter, but scored just two points in both the second and fourth quarters of a 37-29 loss to Blue Valley on Saturday at O-East.
"Both teams played pretty good in the first quarter," Free State coach Craig Hershiser said of the first eight minutes, when FSHS bolted to a 15-10 lead. "Then the flow of the game changed and things got a lot more defensive. We struggled when it came to that."
The Firebirds had just five first-half turnovers despite its pass-happy offense.
On some possessions Free State would make more than a dozen passes before someone took a shot. Sometimes it worked, like when the Firebirds tossed it around until junior Ashley Taul cut to the hoop and made a driving layin for Free State's only basket in the second quarter.
"Sometimes it's good to make so many passes and make the defense adjust to you," said FSHS senior Lauren Wright, who scored six points. "It can be a positive, but there were times when we probably should have shot sooner, too."
The Firebirds led the taller Tigers, 29-28, with just over six minutes left.
"They are a big team," Hershiser said. "I look over there and see 6-1, 6-0 and 5-11. We don't have any of that size. Our kids a real nice job competing with that."
Blue Valley's size advantage finally caught up with Free State midway through the third quarter. Five of the Tigers' final seven baskets were layins, including the game-breaker.
Blue Valley's Kerby Wallace, a 6-foot senior forward, made a layin, was fouled and sank the free throw to complete the three-point play to give the Tigers (2-2) a 31-29 advantage with less than six minutes remaining.
"The difference of the game was that we gave up too many points to them on the inside in the second half," Wright said.
Next for Free State is a home game on Dec. 20 against Lawrence High.