Overland Park The first time Lawrence High's girls basketball team tried a fullcourt press against Shawnee Mission North, the results weren't so hot.
"We did some press early, but we weren't successful," Lawrence coach Kristin Mallory said. "We're a pressing team, but when they're getting layups out of it, you gotta change."
Up by just three points heading into the fourth quarter, the Lions solved their pressing problems in dramatic fashion during Tuesday's 54-37 win at SM North. LHS (11-2 overall, 5-0 Sunflower League) held the Indians scoreless until they hit a three-pointer with 46 seconds left. Until then, North was 0-for-4 from the field and had six turnovers.
The Lions? A sparkling 9-of-11 from the free-throw line and 4-of-7 from the field in a game-breaking 17-0 run.
"We did a better job in our halfcourt defense, too," Mallory said. "We just started playing better defense."
North (5-8, 0-4) had managed to slow down the Lions' transition game, which forced the Lions to concentrate on their halfcourt offense. Midway through the third quarter, the Indians' pestering helped them take a 26-25 lead as LHS struggled to adjust.
"We like to run, but when you have a team that slows it down like that it can be tough," said LHS junior Josie Polk, who led all scorers with 19 points.
The adjustment finally came in the form of senior point guard Leigh DeBiasse. She scored seven of the Lions' next 10 points, driving through the lane for two tough layups and hitting a three-pointer, which gave LHS a 35-32 lead it would never relinquish. She finished with 12 points.
"Leigh stepped up big for us," Mallory said. "She handles the ball a lot for us. Her assist to turnover ratio is really good and she did a good job tonight of getting the ball to where it needed to go."
Often Polk was on the receiving end of DeBiasse's passes, which, to be honest, is just how Polk likes it.
"That's my ideal offense," Polk said. "That's what I love about Leigh."
Actually, the whole LHS squad got in on the act, dishing 10 assists on the night, most of them in the fourth quarter when the press finally started working. Polk and junior Cherrale Ricks each added three assists, while senior Audrey Pope tallied two assists to go with her two points and team-high eight rebounds.
The Lions next play Friday at Olathe East.