Leavenworth Up-tempo teams have given the Free State High girls basketball team problems all season, so the game Friday night at Leavenworth offered no relief for the Firebirds.
Leavenworth (8-9 overall, 5-3 Sunflower League) has guards as quick as any team in the league, and they put FSHS under heavy pressure all night. The Firebirds (5-10, 2-5) responded how they normally have against a speedy and stifling defense -- they pushed the tempo too much, lost their composure and made errant passes.
Leavenworth's 70-48 victory was the byproduct of Free State's 27 turnovers and 34-percent shooting.
"I guess you could call this a learning experience, but learning experiences get old," Free State coach Bryan Duncan said. "We need to learn to be more patient against teams that are that aggressive."
After Jenny Gwaltney scored the first bucket of the game, Leavenworth reeled off a 10-0 run and seemed to be in control. Free State scrambled to get back in the game, but had turnovers on seven of its last eight possessions of the first quarter.
The Firebirds settled down in the second quarter. Tricia Dunham nailed a three-pointer that sparked a 7-0 run and pulled FSHS within 15-13, but back-to-back turnovers contributed to a Leavenworth 9-0 surge. The Pioneers led by as many as 13 in the first half.
"Their pressure defense really took us out of what we were trying to do," Duncan said.
Wallis Romzek's three-pointer early in the third quarter pulled FSHS within 38-30, but five straight turnovers stalled the offense while the Pioneers put the game out of reach.
Jamie Stanclift led Free State with 17 points and Dunham added 10. Erin Morrisey led Leavenworth with 15 points.
Leavenworth 57, Free State boys 48
If only the Free State boys played with as much intensity as their coach showed against Leavenworth, the Firebirds might have won.
Instead, Free State (9-6, 5-2) was dealt its second league loss of the year. It also was the Firebirds' second defeat in three games without leading scorer Dain Dillingham, who has been sidelined because of an illness.
Sans Dillingham, the Firebirds built an early 9-4 lead before falling behind 26-19 at halftime. They kept the game close and had plenty of chances to inch back into the game, but each time they made a mistake.
The most glaring error came with 1:17 remaining. Free State failed to box out a Pioneer free throw. Leavenworth's Matt King got fouled while scoring on the put-back. That put the game out of reach. Firebird coach Jack Schreiner stormed to the end of the gym and kicked a bleacher.
Free State's coach left without comment.
Leonard Parker and Broc Jennings led Leavenworth (7-9, 3-4) with 11 points each and King added 10. Cole Douglas led FSHS with a game-high 16 points. Brady Morningstar added 10.
"We just didn't come out with the intensity we've had at practice the last couple of days, and it really affected our game," FSHS senior Adam Bellinder said. "We didn't execute tonight. That was our No. 1 problem."
The FSHS girls and boys Tuesday play host to Shawnee Mission Northwest.