Heading into last weekend, Lawrence High boys basketball coach Chris Davis said his team's slate of games would serve as a barometer for his team's talent as the Lions faced two of the toughest teams in the Sunflower League on consecutive nights.
Friday, the Lions defeated Shawnee Mission West, which entered the game 12-3 and riding a nine-game win steak, 61-53. One day later, the Lions beat Olathe South, the team that knocked them out of the Class 6A sub-state tournament last year, 46-44.
LHS (11-5) took down the two heavyweights by employing a deep, nine-man squad, featuring the inside-out play of Chance Riley, the perimeter shooting of Nick Wagner and the post presence of John Schneider.
"I'm really happy with our progress," Davis said.
¢A different direction: While the LHS boys have won five of six, the LHS girls quickly have lost steam.
A week ago, a compelling case could be made that the Lawrence High girls had the best city basketball team. Riding the momentum of its Capital City Classic win, the Lions won six consecutive games.
However, LHS (10-6) dropped two consecutive poorly played contests last week.
"There's something emotional going on," LHS coach Kristin Mallory said. "I can't quite get my head wrapped around it, but I will."
¢Walking the talk: Leavenworth guard Antoine Branch was seen frequently talking trash to Free State's guards - namely Nick Devin, Marcus Spates and Kyle Schreiner - during the Pioneers' 61-59 victory Friday night.
Devin frustrated Branch on one specific occasion when he drew an offensive foul with pressure defense 35 feet away from the basket.
Schreiner said the trash-talking came as no surprise.
"It's no disrespect to Leavenworth - they've always been a good basketball school," Schreiner said about the Pioneers, ranked No. 7 in this week's Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A poll. "They have a lot of confidence coming in, which they should. They have a lot of great athletes, and they want to win as badly as we do. They're trying to get any edge they can over us."
Branch passed to teammate Colin O'Neill with 0.6 seconds left for the game-winning layup as time expired.
¢Rolling up milestones: During Thursday's practice at Royal Crest Lanes, LHS junior Tiffany Demaline bowled a 738 series.
That represents her best three-game score ever, improving upon the 733 she rolled while winning the inaugural state championship in 2005.
¢Sophomore has skills: LHS point guard Dorian Green is just a sophomore, but he continues to show his skills as a playmaker.
Last Tuesday, he calmly hit a buzzer-beater to defeat Shawnee Mission South, 45-43.
With less than four minutes left in the third quarter of Friday's 61-53 victory against Shawnee Mission West, Green scored five consecutive points during a key spell. He drove the lane, scored and missed a free throw before rebounding the miss and connecting on a three-point play.
¢Honor roll: Free State senior swimmer Chase Torgerson was recently named to the All-Sunflower League first team. Free State sophomore Cameron Case was named to the second team, and Lawrence High junior Zach Henderson was honorable mention.