LHS girls rule!
Lions come back - again - to win third state title
Games to be replayed starting today
Sunflower Broadband Channel Six will show replays of Saturday’s Class 6A state championship games today.
The replay of the Lawrence High girls’ game against Goddard will air at 6:30 tonight, followed immediately by a replay of the LHS boys vs. Wichita Southwest.
The games also will be replayed starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and will be available on Video On Demand.
Emporia ? Haley Parker’s game-winner was almost an anti-climax.
History will always record Parker’s floater underneath with :04.6 on the clock as the decisive goal in Lawrence’s 54-52 Class 6A girls state championship victory over Goddard.
But the signature shot of the third state title in LHS girls basketball history was Tania Jackson’s exhilarating three-pointer from the left corner with :31.8 remaining.
“I’m not an emotional person,” Jackson said of her game-tying shot from behind the arc in the left corner, “but I was crying. My teammates were shocked.”
They were tears of joy, of course, because LHS had spent most of this Saturday afternoon in White Auditorium battling foul trouble and playing catch-up.
With less than a minute remaining, Lawrence’s improbable run through the first round and semifinals as a No. 7 seed seemed about over. Goddard led, 52-49, and had the ball.
Moments later, however, the Lions – that’s Goddard’s nickname, too – coughed the ball up, and Lawrence had the ball with 47 ticks remaining.
Sixteen seconds later, Jackson launched the do-or-die missile from behind the left arc in front of her own bench.
“It wasn’t planned,” Jackson said of her momentous bomb. “I just had to do whatever I could.”
A 6-foot-1 junior, Jackson is the Lions’ tallest starter and generally regarded as their best inside player. However, she does take three-point shots from time to time.
“I’m OK with that shot,” Lawrence coach Kristin Mallory said. “Tania’s hit a lot of big threes in her day. Somebody had to take it, and she’s been great from the corner.”
Jackson wasn’t so great in the first quarter, though. She was saddled with two fouls in the first six-plus minutes, and Mallory sat her the remainder of that quarter and the entire second quarter.
“I felt horrible after that second foul,” Jackson said.
But she played the entire second half and didn’t pick up another foul, winding up with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
In foul trouble throughout, however, was Danielle Bird, one of only two seniors on the roster and the ringleader in Lawrence’s two tourney victories over Blue Valley and Olathe South.
Bird had scored a combined 37 points in those two outings while drilling 12 of 21 shots. But she, too, had two fouls in the first quarter and wound up playing only 13 of the 32 minutes.
“They had a great game plan,” Mallory said. “They took Dan out of it. The one thing that couldn’t happen, happened.”
And that brings us to Lawrence’s third heroine of the day – unsung 5-9 sophomore reserve Jasmyn Turner.
“We don’t win the game without Jasmyn,” Mallory stated flatly.
Bird’s foul trouble meant more court time for Turner and, as Bird noted, “She was amazing.”
All Turner did was play a career-high 27 minutes, score a career-high 15 points and grab seven rebounds. Yes, the seven boards were a career-high, too. Oh, and that was the first time she ever had led LHS in scoring.
Curiously, Turner had talked to Mallory before the game about her lack of playing time.
“Coach and I had a heart-to-heart,” Turner said. “She told me I would probably play more because this game would be at a faster pace than the other two.”
Then, with a smile, she added: “I was expecting to play more, but not this much.”
Now back to Parker’s game-winning basket.
After Jackson’s bomb from the corner, Goddard had the ball and about 30 seconds remaining to win it. But with about 19 seconds left, the G-Lions’ Samantha Soyez lost the ball, and suddenly the L-Lions had the chance to complete their cardiac comeback.
As the tension mounted, Parker darted into the lane and threw up a three-footer that kissed the glass and went through the net. Bingo II. Lions lead, 54-52.
“We’d run it twice before,” Parker said of that play, “I wanted to run it because I knew at least I’d get a foul.”
Goddard wasn’t done. The G-Lions still had :04.6 left to try to forge a tie or a dramatic victory.
Hardly a Lawrence player or booster breathed as the G-Lions crossed midcourt and Soyez headed down the lane. But the sophomore guard stumbled, went to the floor, the clock expired and Lawrence’s players went berserk.
After all the celebrating, an interesting fact emerged.
Parker’s drives down the lane had accounted for the Lions’ first and last baskets. The first had given Lawrence a 2-0 lead. The second had given the Lions the 6A state title.
They were the Lions’ only leads.