Olathe The first two losses to Free State High were tough enough for the Lawrence High girls basketball team.
The third one, a 36-30 loss Saturday in the Class 6A sub-state finals at Olathe Northwest, was particularly difficult.
"It's definitely the toughest one," senior guard Hannah Somers said. "They knocked us out of state and ended our season."
Lawrence High had trouble finding offensive rhythm Saturday. Somers was the lone source of LHS offense in the first quarter, accounting for all six of its points off the bench.
Somers gave Lions fans an encouraging flashback at the end of the first quarter when she nailed a running jumper off the glass from just inside the three-point line as time expired. In more dramatic fashion, Somers nailed a game-winning three-pointer Thursday against Shawnee Mission Northwest in the first round of sub-state as time expired.
Lawrence (14-8) switched its defensive scheme Saturday for the third battle against Free State (16-6). It worked, evidenced best by a third quarter in which the Firebirds scored only two points.
The Lions also held the Firebirds to 12 points fewer than their season average of 48 points per game.
"We put a 2-3 zone on them most of the game, and I think it was the right game plan," LHS coach Kristin Mallory said. "Their kids drive well, so we felt like we needed to sag off and be in a zone. The biggest positive is I'm not sure we gave up an offensive rebound all game."
The Lions also rebounded particularly well and forced Free State into quick shots, making the loss even tougher to swallow.
"This is a team we definitely should have and could have stepped up and beat tonight with the game plan we had," Mallory said. "They were struggling shooting a little bit. It's definitely disappointing."
Unfortunately for the Lions, the offense just wasn't there. LHS didn't have anyone in double figures.
Free State seniors Lauren Kimball, Jenna Brantley and Kelsey Harrison all scored in double digits.
Lawrence High averaged 55 points per game in the regular season.
"We were doing a lot of standing around on offense and not working the ball as well as we should," senior forward Sydnei Tolefree said.