Topeka The Lawrence High girls basketball squad put up only five points Friday in the fourth quarter of its game against Blue Valley in the Topeka Capital City Classic. And three of those came via free throws.
But those five points were enough to give the Lions a 49-45 victory in the semifinal contest after holding the Tigers to seven points in the quarter on 2-for-9 shooting from the field.
The one basket LHS scored in the fourth period epitomized the Lions' performance in the final three quarters of play.
LHS pulled down four offensive rebounds on one possession before Danielle Bird was able to convert a shot.
"We also had two possessions in a row we got them (offensive rebounds) off of missed free throws there in the end," said LHS coach Kristin Mallory, whose squad had a 46-32 rebounding advantage. "We hit the boards hard tonight and we know that (Blue Valley) is a team that rebounds very well, so we knew we had to."
A night after Danielle Bird's sister, Taylor Bird, went off for 28 points against Kansas City Wyandotte, Danielle stole the show, scoring a game-high 18 points - 16 coming in the first half.
"My shot's been off for a couple of days - and games," said Danielle, who came off the bench to score her points. "I've been thinking, 'Just be positive and just try to make your shots,' because I haven't been making my shots at all."
Taylor wasn't too bad herself, scoring 12 points to go with seven assists and seven rebounds while overcoming eight turnovers.
With the Tigers knocking down five three-pointers in the first two quarters, Danielle Bird took it upon herself to keep the Lions within clawing distance, going 4-for-5 from long range in the first half.
"We were a little off-kilter (to start the game), but when she (Danielle) came off the bench she was a huge punch for us," Mallory said. "So it actually ended up being a bit of an advantage because she got in there and got a couple of early looks and got us really fired up. She's been struggling ... and I think every miss that she gets just creates more and more baggage on her.
"We know Dan is a good shooter - the best shooter on our team - and we've got to get her the ball. So for her to get on a roll tonight was just big for our team and is a huge confidence booster for tomorrow."
The Lions (8-4) will need another strong offensive performance from the Bird sisters and must maintain their domination down low if they are to take home the tournament trophy. LHS will face Topeka Seaman - a team that boasts the leading scorer in Topeka, as well as a 6-foot-5 post player - in the championship game at 2 p.m. today.
"We're going to have to come out with a lot of intensity and play as a team," said Taylor Bird about facing a Seaman squad that knocked off Manhattan, 51-31, to advance to the finals.