Jack Schreiner appreciates the importance of a good rivalry, but city bragging rights won't be his main concern at 7 tonight when his Free State High boys basketball team takes on Lawrence High at LHS.
"The rivalry obviously is important to the kids," said Schreiner, whose team won three of four meetings with the Lions last season.
"But the key factor in this game is that it's a Sunflower League game, and I think the Sunflower League is as wide-open as it's ever been. You can't afford to lose league games."
Free State and Lawrence High each open league play with 3-1 records.
While the Firebirds dominated the series last season, the Lions are a different kind of team this winter.
"I'm pleased with the way the season has gone," LHS coach Chris Davis said. "We've developed a post game we haven't had for a few years. I'm pretty happy with that."
LHS set Kansas high school records for three-point attempts and three-pointers made last season, but the Lions have more of an inside presence this season with senior post players Tony Anderson and Ian Handshy.
Their inside play has made LHS more balanced and hindered opponents' efforts to key on the Lions' outside shooters -- who still like to shoot from three-point range.
"We're getting a lot more good looks for our guards because of our post play," Davis said. "We can be a little more selective with our outside shots now."
|Tipoff: 7 tonightPROBABLE STARTERSFree State (3-1)G -- Sam Buhler, Sr.G -- Brady Morningstar, Sr.G -- Danny Pike, Sr.G -- Bobby Underwood, Sr.G -- Matt Green, Sr.LHS (3-1)G -- Kristian Pope, Jr.G -- Brennan Bechard, Sr.G -- Tyler Knight, Jr.G -- David Freeman, Sr.C -- Tony Anderson, Sr.|
Free State, meanwhile, still plays a frenzied, in-your-face defense. The Firebirds forced 20 turnovers in a 77-57 victory over Miege and 25 in a 57-50 victory over Blue Valley West.
Those opponents might be surprised to learn that Schreiner thinks FSHS can do better.
"Defensively, we're OK," Schreiner said. "We still need some work. We need to work out the kinks in our press, and then we'll be OK."
Schreiner said senior standout Brady Morningstar, who injured his right wrist during the Olathe South Invitational, should be OK for tonight's game.
"He still has his wrist taped, but it's not taped to his hand and fingers like it was," Schreiner said. "If he's not 100 percent, nobody will be able to tell."
After injuring his shooting hand during the Olathe South semifinals, Morningstar scored 19 points in the finals against Miege.
"We have to know where Brady is," Davis said. "We can't pay too much attention to him. We respect his game, but we'll play team defense."