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Archive for Friday, February 7, 2003

Bum knee slowing Wooden

FSHS senior still becomes No. 2 all-time city scorer

February 7, 2003

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It has been a quiet two weeks for Keith Wooden.

Free State High's 6-foot-9 forward has been hobbled by a knee bruise the last three games, limiting his mobility. He has scored 20 points in that span. He had been averaging 17.3 points per game before his injury.

Maybe that's why the Arizona State-bound senior didn't think much about passing the 800-point plateau, or passing 2002 Lawrence High graduate Stephen Vinson for second place on the city's career scoring list.

That, or he didn't even know where he stood.

"I've never really thought about it," Wooden said. "So I don't know what to say. I've just been going out and playing basketball."

With 10 points in a 66-61 win against Shawnee Mission West on Tuesday, Wooden eclipsed Vinson and 1998 LHS grad Todd Heitshusen. His 816 career points -- to Vinson's 813 and Heitshusen's 812 -- are well behind No. 1, though -- 1992 LHS grad Maurice Trotter, who had 1,003 points.

Still, Wooden is on pace to score more than 900 points.

"That is cool," coach Jack Schreiner said. "To do that, you've got to start for three years and you've got to be productive."

Eventually, Schreiner said, Wooden will understand the impact of his high school days.

"It will take until he comes back and sees it on the wall out there before he really realizes how big it is," he said.

Wooden entered this season as Free State's career points and rebounds leader and was an All-Sunflower League selection last season. He's been the focal point of the Firebirds' offense, but Bijai Jones and Dain Dillingham are also factors.

"The thing about this year is that he doesn't have to be the No. 1 option," Schreiner said. "You've got to worry about Bijai, about Dainer, which has really helped him."

Free State (9-4 overall, 3-3 league) will need all those scoring options at Wichita Southeast on Saturday. The Golden Buffaloes (9-3) feature one of the state's top players, guard Dupree Lucas, and have the size inside to counter Wooden.

Schreiner views it as a statement game.

"This is an opportunity for us to go out and play a team we really don't know, so we can get back to where we were," he said. "I want us to have some of that swagger back. There's a fine line between swagger and cockiness. A couple of games we showed up and had that swagger, but didn't think we had to play."

Wooden, who now averages 14.8 ppg, is still slowed by the knee injury, but it has healed significantly in the past week.

"It's been rough," Wooden said. "I haven't been as agile as I usually am. I'm sitting here on a bum knee."

Even if it's a little swollen, it won't be hard for Wooden to motivate himself Saturday, not with several relatives on hand.

Two of his cousins attend Wichita Southeast.

"There'll be a lot of family down there. My grandma and grandpa and some cousins," he said. "But I'll still put on a show."

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