Topeka Hayden wasn't too worried about Free State High's three-point shooters Thursday night in the first round of the Firebird Winter Classic.
FSHS sophomore Jenna Brantley sank three of five shots from long range, and the Firebirds made five of eight treys -- including all three of their fourth-quarter attempts -- en route to a 52-32 victory over the defending Class 4A state champions at FSHS.
"They surprised us with their outside shooting," Hayden guard Morgan Gaffney said. "They made a lot of shots we didn't expect. They did a really good job with that, and it stopped us from coming back."
Forgive Hayden (5-4) if the third-seeded Wildcats were overconfident against the sixth-seeded Firebirds (4-6), who had lost five in a row before a 62-29 drubbing of Kansas City Wyandotte on Jan. 18.
Neither team could find the basket in the early going. Hayden took a 2-0 lead on Jenny Hubbell's basket with 4:18 left in the first quarter, and Free State finally got on the board with Brantley's first three-pointer 52 seconds later.
Hayden led 17-12 in the second quarter before FSHS sophomore reserve Allie Hock sank a long two-pointer that ignited a 14-2 Firebirds run.
Brantley and Lauren Kimball both sank three-pointers in the run, which gave FSHS a 26-19 lead with 5:37 left in the first half.
"I was really feeling my shot," said Brantley, who scored a season-high 17 points. "The team worked really hard to get me and everybody else open, and we got good shots."
Hayden cut the deficit to 26-24 on a basket by Gaffney, but Free State outscored the Wildcats 26-8 the rest of the way.
"We had some games get away from us early in the year," FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said. "I think tonight you saw a sense of toughness from Free State girls basketball. We played a heck of a game defensively."
Kimball finished with 11 points for Free State. Leading scorer Jamie Stanclift was limited to four points but had six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Gaffney led Hayden with nine points. The Wildcats were playing without one of their top players after senior forward Carrie Eaton re-injured her knee last week. The Wildcats didn't use Eaton's season-ending injury as an excuse.
"I don't think that was a factor," Gaffney said. "It would be nice to have her out there, but we played four games without her early in the season, and we know we can win without her."
FSHS will meet second-seeded Manhattan at 7 tonight in Free State's main gym. The Indians rolled over seventh-seeded Wichita North, 60-26. North will face Hayden at 5:30 p.m. in the north gym.
|At Free State highThursday's GamesBlue Valley 62, Lawrence High 41Free State 52, Topeka Hayden 32Manhattan 60, Wichita North 26Shawnee Heights 61, Olathe North 33Today's GamesMain GymShawnee Heights vs. Blue Valley, 5:30 p.m.Manhattan vs. FSHS, 7 p.m.North GymWichita North vs. Hayden, 5:30 p.m.Olathe North vs. LHS, 7 p.m.|
|Hayden||13||4||9||6 -- 32|
|Free State||10||12||10||20 -- 52|