Free State High's girls haven't played a basketball game in nine days, but FSHS coach Bryan Duncan wasn't worried about his team being rusty tonight in the first round of the Firebird Winter Classic.
"I feel like we had an excellent week of practice, and our best basketball is directly in front of us," said Duncan, whose sixth-seeded Firebirds (3-6) will play host to third-seeded Topeka Hayden (5-3) at 7 tonight in Free State's main gym. "We still have a chance to be a very good basketball team this season."
Free State snapped a five-game losing streak Jan. 18 at FSHS with a 62-29 victory over Kansas City Wyandotte. Since then, the Firebirds have done nothing but practice.
"It gave us a chance to slow down, get back to basic fundamentals and do some teaching," Duncan said. "I think it was real beneficial for us."
Senior Jamie Stanclift leads Free State with an average of 11 points per game.
Free State wasn't the only team with a long hiatus. Lawrence High took a 10-day break before beating Kansas City Christian, 54-49, Monday at LHS.
The fourth-seeded Lions take a 5-3 record and a two-game win streak into a 5:30 p.m. first-round game against fifth-seeded Blue Valley in the main gym.
"I hope that any momentum we built from this victory can carry over into the tournament," said LHS center Megan Klingler, who scored 16 points against K.C. Christian. "We've really worked hard the last two weeks to prepare ourselves for this level of play, and were excited to get started."
|At Free StateToday's GamesMain GymLHS vs. Blue Valley, 5:30 p.m.Free State vs. Topeka Hayden, 7 p.m.North GymManhattan vs. Wich. North, 5:30 p.m.Shawnee Heights vs. O-North, 7 p.m.|
Unbeaten Shawnee Heights won the tournament last year. Top-seeded Heights opens with Olathe North at 7 p.m. in the north gym. Second-seeded Manhattan faces Wichita North in the other first-round game at 5:30 p.m. in the north gym.
"This tournament is going to be as good as it ever has been," LHS coach Kristin Mallory said. "There are no teams that are just walkovers."