Olathe — The residual effects of losing three games in its last four tries appeared to be creeping in ever so slightly Tuesday evening for Lawrence High's girls basketball team.
Here the Lions were, against lowly Olathe North - a bunch that had accumulated just one win and 41 losses the past two seasons - and LHS trailed by one after the first quarter.
Lawrence eventually came back in the second half to win handily, 50-31, but that wasn't what anyone was talking about afterward.
"I really do not know what it is," senior Danielle Bird said. "We just haven't come out ready to play. I don't know what is wrong with us."
What was wrong in Tuesday's first quarter was the same lack of intensity that got the Lions into trouble against previous opponents. The Eagles' guards easily broke Lawrence's full court pressure, getting to the hoop for layups.
It took a halftime tongue-lashing from LHS coach Kristin Mallory to right the ship. Even though the Lions held Olathe North to three points in the second quarter, Lawrence didn't gain the lead for good until Bird's three-pointer with 2:51 left in the first half. Jasmyn Turner's layup gave LHS just a 21-17 halftime lead.
"I thought their kids pretty much kicked our tails in the first half," Mallory said. "We get in panic mode when we start missing shots. When you don't come out and play hard, I don't care who it is you're playing, you're not going to play well."
LHS shot 9-for-31 in that first half before making a concerted effort to get the ball inside to forward Tania Jackson in the third quarter.
Her layups, combined with the return of the Lions' defensive pressure, squelched Olathe North during a 19-4 third-quarter run.
Jackson scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the second half. Danielle Bird finished with 12, and Taylor Bird added 11.
Jackson said a lot of her team's problems have stemmed from their early-season successes, when LHS began 11-1. The Lions now stand at 13-4 and 5-3 in Sunflower League play.
"After a couple of games, we got big heads," Jackson said. "Ever since then, we haven't been playing well. Our energy and our self-confidence has gone down because of the losses."
Still, the Lions finished with a laugher on their hands and remain in line for a No. 2 seed at sub-state thanks to their hot start to the season.
But don't think that will be enough to satisfy Mallory.
"It's still not the same team that we saw at the beginning of the year," Mallory said. "We've got to get that energy back. I just don't know at what point that light bulb is going to click."
LHS will get another crack at fixing its first-half troubles Friday night at home against Leavenworth. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.