Capacity for Lawrence High's main gym is listed at 2,400.
That and then some will wedge into the gym tonight for the Class 6A sub-state boys basketball final between host LHS (15-6) and crosstown rival Free State (10-11). Tipoff for the state-qualifying game is approximately 7:45 p.m.
"This is going to be an incredible game," Free State forward Pat Krivoshia said, following his 22-point performance in the Firebirds' 58-56 semifinal victory over defending state champion Leavenworth on Thursday. "The place is going to be packed. It's going to be roaring. I thought last time was loud, but this is going to be incredible."
LHS won the last intracity meeting, 68-48, on Feb. 3 on the Lions' court. The Firebirds, who lead the four-year series 4-3, beat Lawrence 63-55 on Dec. 19 at Free State. Tonight will be the first postseason contest between the two schools in basketball.
Two days after an emotional victory over top-seeded Leavenworth, Firebird coach Jack Schreiner believes Free State can get up for one more.
"The kids shouldn't have a problem getting up for this one," Schreiner said. "It's the sub-state championship, it's Lawrence High. If the kids can't get up for that, I question if all their brain cells are functioning."
Before Free State's win over Leavenworth at LHS, the Lions ousted Olathe South, 66-53, in a more subdued contest.
"I'm sure they spent a lot of emotion against Leavenworth, but this is Lawrence High-Free State and I know they won't have trouble getting their emotions back," LHS coach Chris Davis said. "I think the first two minutes will tell everybody a lot."
Junior guard D.J. Watkins, who averages a team-high 12.9 points a game, erupted for a game-high 25 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and 7-for-9 shooting from the line in the Lions' win over O-South. Nine players scored for the Lions in the win over the Falcons.
"We have been working extremely hard on playing team basketball," Davis said. "We let the game go to whoever is doing well. As long as we keep that attitude we'll be successful."
Free State had one of its most balanced games of the season against Leavenworth. Four players Krivoshia (22), Keith Wooden (12), Andron Cruse (10) and Neil Dougherty (10) scored in double figures for the Firebirds. Krivoshia (13 ppg) and Wooden (12.6) shared most of the scoring load during the regular season.
"That's best game I've seen Pat Krivoshia play," Schreiner said of the 6-foot-4 forward. "He was phenomenal on offense and defense. When we needed a big bucket, Pat was the one we went to."
The Firebirds are trying to qualify for state for the second consecutive year. Krivoshia is the lone Firebird who saw action in last year's sub-state final, a 67-62 overtime win over Topeka.
"None of the other players actually got in the game," Schreiner said. "At least they experienced the environment and saw what it's like. Thay may help us."
The Lions, meanwhile, are playing in their first sub-state final since 1998. They haven't advanced to state since their championship season in 1995, when Schreiner was Lawrence's head coach.
Obviously, LHS is hungry for a trip to the state tournament. Tonight's winner will advance to the 6A tournament at Emporia's White Auditorium.
"We are definitely on a mission and that mission is to get to Emporia," said Davis, whose squad is 7-0 in tournament games this season. "That's what we're focused on."
Free State is also focused on a state berth.
"This is going to be huge," Krivoshia said. "We want another shot at them and we're going to get it in the biggest game of the season, by far. With everything on the line, two huge rivals this is going to be a great one."
The LHS-FSHS game will follow the 6A sub-state girls final between Overland Park Aquinas and Olathe South, scheduled for 6 p.m.. ... Lion officials recommend fans arrive early to secure a seat for the boys game. ... LHS athletics director Ron Commons said law enforcement officials will be in the school's parking lot "making sure everyone parks correctly." ... Admission for the doubleheader is $5 for adults and $4 for students kindergarten through 12th grade. ... The 6A state boys state quarterfinals will begin on Wednesday at Emporia. ... The Sunflower League is assured of three state qualifiers and possibly a fourth if Olathe East upends Overland Park Aquinas in a final tonight.