Emporia Well, that was easy.
Lawrence High's girls basketball team was certain it would be forced into a rough-and-tumble, scrap-to-the-end struggle against third-seeded Olathe South Friday afternoon in the Class 6A state tournament semifinals.
Instead, all it got from the Falcons was a whimper and a white flag as No. 7 Lawrence never trailed in a 62-51 victory.
The relative casualness with which the Lions advanced to today's state championship was baffling to everyone. This was an Olathe South team that was the defending state runner-up and entered the semis on a 14-game winning streak.
"I thought it was going to be a hard game," LHS guard Taylor Bird said. "It was not at all what I thought."
Lions coach Kristin Mallory said the postgame mood reflected that sentiment.
"You're playing in the state championship, you'd think they'd be happier," Mallory said. "They're just real calm. I don't know if that's a businesslike attitude or the excitement wasn't there because we had the lead the whole game."
Yes, the Lions are that good right now.
Lawrence began the game with 13 consecutive points behind two three-pointers from sophomore Cassie Potter and one from senior Danielle Bird. When Taylor Bird's spin-move layup fell through the hoop, LHS held a 15-4 lead at quarter's end.
And Lawrence was just as solid defensively, coming out in a full-court press that flustered even the veteran players on Olathe South's team. Three times in the first quarter alone, the Falcons threw the ball to nobody out of bounds.
"I thought it definitely got us moving, and (Olathe South) played a little nervous to start," Mallory said of her team's defensive pressure. "We certainly took advantage of that by scoring a few buckets early.
"You've got to love the way we started the game."
In the first half, LHS kept the lead above single digits for all but a few minutes. Potter's third three-pointer of the first half gave the Lions their biggest lead in the first two quarters at 18-6.
The closest Olathe South got in the second half was six points when Abbey Marra's layup cut the deficit to 33-27. But both Taylor and Danielle Bird scored buckets - as they did for much of the night - to push the margin back into double figures.
Danielle Bird was particularly potent from the field, scoring 20 points.
"Danielle was crazy on the shots," forward Tania Jackson said. "I don't even remember her missing."
She didn't miss much, and neither did the rest of the Lions, who finished the game 19-for-32 from the field (59.4 percent).
Jackson added a double-double for LHS with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Taylor Bird scored 13 points, and Potter chipped in 11.
Jadhken Kerr led the Falcons with 20 points.
Olathe South finished the season 21-3, and its only two losses to teams in the state of Kansas came at the hands of Lawrence.
Danielle Bird said one motivating factor in her team's performance was avoiding playing in the third-place game when White Auditorium would be all but empty.
"We came this far. Why lose now?" she said. "We wanted to play in the championship."
Lawrence (20-4) gets that chance against No. 4 Goddard (22-2) at 4 p.m. today. LHS will be looking to capture its first state title in 16 years.