MCPHERSON The Free State High boys basketball team rallied Saturday to knock off Manhattan, 66-62 in overtime, in the third-place game at the McPherson Invitational Basketball Tournament.
The Firebirds (6-5) trailed by 12 points at halftime, then cut the deficit to three entering the final frame.
"We were horrible in the first half," FSHS coach Chuck Law said. "We just sleepwalked through the first half. They were in a 3-2 zone, and nobody in our league plays zone. That's the first time we've played against a zone this year, and we were horrible: gun shy and tentative."
The Firebirds trailed, 25-9, before closing the first half with a bit of a run that carried over to the second half.
"We played great in the second half," Law said. "And in the overtime, we really controlled it, for the most part. Kris Wilson's penetration and willingness to share the basketball was really key."
Kyle Schreiner and Christian Ballard led the Firebirds with 13 points apiece. Wilson added 12 and Nick Devin 10.
Free State finished 2-1 in the eight-team field, sandwiching the victories around Friday's 63-50 loss to Shawnee Mission East.
The Lancers won the tournament with a 43-42 victory over McPherson in the title game.
FSHS led SM East by eight points at halftime.
"We totally outplayed them in the first half," Law said. "The tempo was ours, slow. They decided in the second half to pick up the tempo and get out in transition."
The score was tied at 42 going into the fourth quarter before SM East pulled away. The Lancers were helped to that end by the absence of Weston Wiebe, who took a shot to the mouth and sat out several minutes of the fourth quarter.
"Other than the fourth quarter against East and the first half tonight, that was as good as we've played to this point this season," Law said. "Tonight, we were down 12 at the half and could have rolled over and died, but we really responded."
The Firebirds are idle until Jan. 30, when they play host to Olathe South.