Lawrence High's boys basketball team has played about as well as it can in seven of its last eight quarters. But things sure fell apart during the second stanza of the Lions' 56-48 victory Saturday night at Shawnee Mission West.
Yet, that slight slump might have been just the wake-up call the Lions (13-7) needed as they head into their Class 6A sub-state opener at 7 tonight against Topeka (5-15) at LHS.
"We can ill afford any kind of let-up like that tonight," said LHS coach Chris Davis, whose squad is seeded third in the Leavenworth sub-state.
"I know that Mike (Henson, Topeka coach) will have his team ready. There are few coaches in the state better than him."
But for the first time in recent years, the Lions didn't have a previous tilt with the Trojans earlier this season in which to prepare themselves.
However, Free State demolished Topeka twice. The Firebirds won, 77-37, in the Topeka Invitational and then defeated the Trojans, 73-47, three games later.
But Davis is the first to admit those scores mean absolutely nothing.
"This is a lot different team than the one that played Free State then," Davis said. "There's been some significant line-up changes because I think they had a couple of players leave the team."
LHS senior David Freeman, who helped bring the Lions out of their slumber Saturday when he scored 18 of his game-high 25 points, said Lawrence players are confident, but not cocky going into what could be their final game of the season.
|BOYSToday's GamesBracket AOlathe Northwest (0-20) at Free State (17-3), 6 p.m.Olathe East (9-11) at Leavenworth (11-9), 7 p.m.Bracket BOlathe North (4-16) atO-South (15-5), 7 p.m.Topeka (5-15) at Lawrence (13-7), 7 p.m.Friday's GamesOlathe Northwest-Free State winner vs. Olathe East-Leavenworth winnerOlathe North-Olathe South winner vs. Topeka-Lawrence winnerGIRLSThursday's GamesBracket AOlathe Northwest (3-17) at O-South (18-2), 7 p.m.Free State (8-12) at Leavenworth (11-9), 7 p.m.Bracket BOlathe North (4-16) at Olathe East (13-7), 7 p.m.Topeka (8-12) at Lawrence (11-8), 7 p.m.Saturday's GamesO-Northwest-Olathe South winner vs. Free State-Leavenworth winnerOlathe North-Olathe East winner vs. Topeka-Lawrence winner|
"You can't overlook anyone at this time of the year," Freeman said. "On paper, it probably looks like we should easily win this one, but we're going to have to come out with a fire and play that way."
Lawrence High's girls also will be the third seed when the Lions (11-8) play host to Topeka (8-12) at 7 p.m. Thursday at LHS.
"I think our girls know it's do or die now," said LHS coach Kristin Mallory, whose squad lost SM West, 41-33, on Friday.
"I actually think us losing our last game might not be so bad of a deal, because sometimes we play better after a loss."
But like the LHS boys, the girls also haven't seen Topeka this season.
"I know that they like to use zone a lot, especially 2-3," Mallory said. "I think they struggled early this season but that had to do with them losing their best player to an ACL injury.
"They're pretty athletic, but I think we can match that. But we definitely need to come out more intense."
If the LHS boys win, they'll go to Leavenworth on Friday to meet the winner of tonight's Olathe North-Olathe South game. If the girls win they would head to Leavenworth on Saturday to tangle with Thursday's Olathe North-Olathe East winner.