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Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

O-North record tough to ignore for LHS girls

Coach: Lions shouldn’t take 3-17 Eagles lightly

February 27, 2008

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You can try throwing out the records all you want come sub-state playoff time - when every high school hoops team supposedly has a clean slate - but some records are harder to discard than others.

Like 3-17.

That's the win-loss tally for the Olathe North Eagles, against whom the 16-4 Lawrence High girls basketball team opens sub-state play tonight at home.

And Lions coach Kristin Mallory said that knowledge may have affected the preparation of her team, which she said performed poorly at practice Tuesday.

"It's hard for the girls to imagine that Olathe North could beat them, so they weren't very focused, but they need to get that way," Mallory said.

If focus is a big problem, here's a number the Lions might want to consider more closely: 14-13.

That was the score - in favor of the Eagles - after the first quarter of play the last time these teams met just two weeks ago. LHS went on to win, 50-31, but not without its share of struggles.

"We need to play hard the whole game, and not just think we're going to come out here and beat them by 20 points," LHS senior Danielle Bird said. "Last time, we were only up by four during half (21-17)."

For Bird and Lindsey Murray - the only seniors on the Lions' team - it's a matter of making sure their teammates understand the importance of playoff basketball, when one loss means elimination and the end of two LHS careers.

"I just don't think people realized that this could have been our last practice, and if we don't play well (today), we won't get to go to state," Murray said. "Dan and I have always expected our senior year to be the year we went to state. Now, it's almost within our grasp."

As the highest seed (No. 2) on its side of the bracket, LHS certainly has the perfect draw to make a run at the state tournament. A win against the Eagles likely would set up a rematch against 12-8 Olathe Northwest, which lost to Lawrence, 56-40, on Jan. 5. LHS also avoids playing No. 1 seed Olathe South until state.

Plus, the Lions have another advantage. They get to play both sub-state games in their own gym.

"That's the biggest thing we talked about," Mallory said. "How often do you get to play on your home court? And that's an opportunity they can't overlook. They have to understand this is a great chance for them. To not only get more fans, but just to have the safety of your own environment.

"I'm real excited about it. I hope they are."

Lawrence currently is riding a four-game winning streak, which began against the Eagles.

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