Olathe Lawrence High's girls basketball team's improbable run at the Class 6A state tournament came to an end Saturday night.
But it ended only after the Lions (9-13) mixed it up with Olathe East (14-8) for nearly 30 minutes before falling, 50-39, in a sub-state championship game at Olathe North.
"It was a good ride that finally came to an end," said LHS coach Kristin Mallory, who fought back tears after the loss.
For the majority of Saturday's intense game, it was unclear who would come out on top. There were 11 lead changes and five ties in the first half alone.
And just when Olathe East managed to gain a small cushion late, the Lions came back to tie the score at 36 when junior Leigh DeBiasse hit her only basket of the game with 5:38 remaining in the fourth.
The Hawks, however, didn't allow next week's trip to Emporia slip away. O-East ended the game and Lawrence's season with a 14-3 run.
"We played great for 31/2 quarters," Mallory said.
Indeed, the Lions did, even though they overcame 15 first-half turnovers. Cherrale Ricks came off the bench and kept the Lions close by scoring 11 of her game-high 14 points in the first half.
The difference late was the Hawks' aggression as OEHS attacked the basket and pushed Lawrence back on its heels when the game's outcome was still uncertain.
After the tie, which came after the Hawks committed five consecutive turnovers to start the fourth, Olathe East answered with a layup by Tiffany Vincent, who was one of four Hawks to score nine or points.
Lawrence failed to score on its next three possessions while Olathe East canned six straight free throws before putting the game away with a wide-open inbounds play from Vincent to Karrah Clay for an uncontested layup with a minute and a half left.
With LHS trailing 48-39 with :48 seconds to go, Mallory pulled her starters and put in her four seniors Hallie Fitzgerald, Ashley Burnett, Rachel Severence and Mandy Amyx and sophomore Jodie Cochrane.
"We got to where we are because of the help of those four seniors," Mallory said. "They've helped put us in a position to win for seasons to come, and they'll always be a part of this team."
Mallory said that while the team's ultimate goal of reaching state was not realized, Lawrence's late run was more than most people expected from a Lions team that lost 14 straight games at the end of last season.
Thursday's 56-52 victory over Leavenworth was the Lions' first postseason win in six years.
"It was an emotional roller-coaster ride of a season," said Amyx as she exchanged hugs with teammates. "I'm proud to have been a part of that, and I hope we provided some leadership to help the team next year."
Olathe East 50, Lawrence 39
OLATHE EAST (14-8)
Britni Cone 5-10 2-2 12, Tiffany Vincent 4-6 1-2 9, Karrah Clay 5-12 0-3 10, Brittany Broyles 2-4 0-0 5, Kelsi Ginavan 0-1 0-0 0, Erin Mehi 2-8 5-6 10, Alexis Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Tamara Vincent 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 8-13 50.
Hallie Fitzgerald 0-0 0-0 0, Josie Polk 3-14 4-4 10, Mandy Amyx 1-3 1-2 3, Rachel Klingler 4-11 2-4 10, Leigh DeBiasse 1-2 0-0 2, Audrey Pope 0-0 0-0 0, Cherrale Ricks 5-7 4-7 14, Jenna Wilcox 0-1 0-0 0, Shari Lassiter 0-3 0-0 0, Ashley Burnett 0-0 0-0 0, Jodie Cochrane 0-1 0-0 0, Rachel Severence 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-42 11-17 39.
O. East 14 12 10 1450
Lawrence 15 8 9 739
Three-point shooting O. East 2-5 (Broyles 1-2, Mehi 1-3), Lawrence 0-6 (Polk 0-4, DeBiasse 0-1, Cochrane 0-1). Fouls O. East 13, Lawrence 15. Turnovers O. East 15, Lawrence 22.