Olathe Lawrence High junior Leigh DeBiasse missed most of last week's game against Leavenworth because an allergic reaction to medicine for tonsillitis.
On Thursday night, Leavenworth received a full dose of DeBiasse. The Lions' point guard scored a season-high 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to lift bottom seed LHS to a 56-52 victory over the top-seeded Pioneers in the Class 6A sub-state girls basketball semifinals at Olathe North.
It was the first postseason win since 1996 for the Lions, who had defeated the Pioneers, 51-48, last Thursday at Leavenworth.
"They had something to lose," said DeBiasse, who connected on three three-point goals. "We came in playing our game. Knowing we beat them once, we knew we could do it again. It's a great accomplishment for our season. It's a great feeling."
Lawrence (9-12) will play Olathe East (13-8) at 6 p.m. Saturday at 0-North in the sub-state championship for a berth in next week's 6A state tournament in Emporia. O-East advanced with a 69-51 victory over host O-North. If Lawrence High's boys win their sub-state opener tonight at Free State, the tipoff for the LHS-Olathe East girls game will move to 5:30 p.m.
"That was a goal of mine before the season," first-year LHS coach Kristin Mallory said of reaching the sub-state final. "That was one thing we wanted to do. It feels great."
LHS needed another fourth-quarter comeback to win. Down 40-35 with 7:20 left, the Lions, fueled by defense, erupted for an 18-2 run to take a 53-42 advantage over the Pioneers (14-7) with 2:04 remaining. LHS took the lead for good at 41-40 on DeBiasse's two free throws with 6:35 left following her steal near midcourt.
"We play a better game when we're up tempo, and press and try to trap," said DeBiasse, who had two steals and helped force a jump ball for another turnover in the fourth quarter. "When we play good defense, we seem to have a good offense."
DeBiasse drove past Leavenworth defenders for two left-handed layins late in Lawrence's decisive run.
"We've been doing these drills in practice when we drive around chairs and working it on taking to the hole," Mallory said. "She went up with her left hand, and I don't think they were expecting that."
Down 53-42, Leavenworth threatened with a 9-0 run to pull within two points. Stephanie Bergman popped a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to close the gap to 53-51. The Lions didn't panic, though, as DeBiasse hit three of four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.
Lawrence sophomore Rachael Klingler scored eight points and had four blocks, including two in the fourth quarter.
"We started playing really good defense and we knew we couldn't let them score on us," Klingler said. "We didn't want to foul. We just pressured the ball."
Eight different Lions scored.
"Every girl who got in the game stepped up in some way," Mallory said. "Cherrale (Ricks) played great defense on No. 32 (Tiffany Brooks)."
Brooks, a 5-foot-11 junior, finished with a team-high 13 points. She scored 11 in the first half and didn't have a field goal in second half before fouling out with 30.4 seconds left.
Leavenworth senior Renee Sidney, playing with a torn ACL, was carried off the court with 5:21 left in the third quarter after aggravating the injury to her right knee.
Lawrence outscored Leavenworth 22-14 in the fourth quarter.
"We haven't been beaten in the fourth quarter very often this year," Mallory said. "That seems to be our forte, and you have to like that."