The Lawrence High and Free State boys' and girls' basketball teams met tonight in the City Showdown.
Blackout: The Lawrence High student section brought a new twist to the rivalry Thursday night, as most in attendance wore black T-Shirts in response to the school's request for a "Blackout" for the city showdown.
Several members of the LHS crowd simply donned the black tops. But a handful went all the way, wearing black shirts, pants, shoes and hats.
Jungle has new look: Speaking of the LHS gym, the Jungle unleashed a new look for Thursday's contest. Emblazoned on the wall padding under the basket on the east wall of the gym are two Chesty Lion logos. School officials said the logos were in fact etched into the padding and not stickers simply placed on top of them.
New streaks begin: In the first game of the night, the Lawrence High girls end a substantial losing streak to Free State with a 44-30 victory. LHS had lost five straight dating back to 2005, including three match-ups a season ago.
In the nightcap, the Free State boys avenged a pair of losses from last season with a 71-64 victory, giving the schools the split on the evening.
Tobacco Road?: Although the gym didn't fill up completely until the start of the boys game, the girls contest was played in front of a near-capacity crowd.
LHS sophomore Cassie Potter, who made her first start in the city showdown, said the atmosphere was better than she could've imagined.
"It's like college basketball," Potter said. "It's like North Carolina and Duke in here."
LHS girls coach Kristin Mallory didn't quite go that far, but did say the energy at the annual showdowns is a blast to be a part of.
"For a high school game, this is as good as it gets," Mallory said.
More time off: After waiting nearly two weeks to get back onto the court - Free State's girls last played Dec. 9 in the Bonner Springs tournament - the Firebirds were thrilled to see some live action.
Unfortunately for Free State, the team will have to endure yet another break in the action, as the girls aren't scheduled to play again until Jan. 4, when they will play host to Olathe North. That marks two games in a span of 28 days.
Center sits first eight: Lawrence High's John Schneider didn't start and didn't play until the second quarter. Schneider, a 6-foot-7 senior, is the Lions' leading scorer at 13.0 points a game. Coach Chris Davis said Schneider was guilty of a "small violation of team policy. We're pretty strict about getting things done the right way. If it had been a major violation, he wouldn't have played."
Hawks in the house: As expected, former KU great and current Jayhawks assistant coach Danny Manning was in the crowd to watch his daughter, Taylor Manning, (6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) play in the girls game.
Joining Manning in representing KU's current squad was senior center Sasha Kaun, who strolled in during the boys game and sat in the second level of bleachers above the LHS bench.
Showing off his range: During the final furious minutes of the Lawrence High boys' 71-64 loss, junior guard Dorian Green showed off his ability to bomb from the outside. Green hit several three-pointers from well beyond the three-point arc, the deepest of which came from seven feet beyond the line with 47 seconds remaining. The shot pulled the Lions within seven. LHS crept within five on a free throw from Jared Vinoverski with eight seconds to play but got no closer.
Crowd wars: Predictably, the cheering sections from both schools shot chants back and forth throughout the evening. Most were in good taste, some were not. But the loudest and most impressive chant came from the Free State side in the waning moments of the boys' victory.
"This is our house," the FSHS students shouted across the gym.
LHS's students responded by pointing to the state championship banners that hang on the west wall in the gym.