Bonner Springs The Free State High boys basketball team advanced to the second round of the fifth annual Metro Prep Classic at Bonner Springs High School with a 50-35 victory over Valley Center on Thursday.
The Firebirds (1-0) shot better than 40 percent from the field, and dominated with defense and rebounding.
Free State outrebounded Valley Center, 29-22, and grabbed several key offensive rebounds that led to easy putbacks.
Valley Center jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on a three-pointer from guard Dylan McCullough and a layup from guard Zach Banick. The Firebirds answered with an 8-0 run — seven of the points coming from forward Jake Miller.
“We didn't start too well in the first quarter. We had some first-game jitters,” Firebirds coach Chuck Law said. "In the second quarter we really started to guard well and put the pedal to the metal on offense. I really think that changed the game.”
Free State blew the game open in the second quarter with a 20-7 run. During the run, forward Connor Monarez scored five points on two easy baskets and a free throw, and guard Nick Hassing also added five points with a long three and two free throws. Miller nailed two more buckets and the Firebirds led, 29-18, at the half.
When the third quarter began, Free State cranked up the pressure on defense, causing a number of turnovers and forced shots. Miller added two more baskets, running his point total to a game-high 14. He also added six rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
“I think Jake played really well tonight,” Law said. “He was a little excited at times, but overall he gave the kind of effort you expect from your key returning senior.”
Free State led, 39-25, at the start of the fourth quarter. Valley Center hit only two of 11 three-pointers in the game and never posed much of a threat in the second half.
Free State will face Shawnee Heights at 8:15 tonight in the second round of the tournament.
Free State girls 33, Valley Center 21
The Firebirds scored 22 points in the second half and rebounded from a poor first half.
"I thought we really settled down in the second half with some nice assists that led to easy baskets,” FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said.
Valley Center trailed by as many as 14 points.
The Firebirds (1-0) will face Shawnee Heights in the second round of the tournament at 8:15 tonight. The winner will advance to the title game.