Lawrence High’s girls basketball players should have carried some cream cheese in their gym bags Tuesday night. They served up quite a defensive bagel at a most opportune time on the court.
Lawrence defeated Shawnee Mission South, 50-41, at LHS, in large part to an impressive defensive stand that held the Raiders without a point for more than 10 minutes of game clock during the second half.
“Without that 10-minute stretch, it could have been a different ballgame,” LHS coach Kristin Mallory said. “I think it was just guts on their part.”
Part guts. Part heart. Part reaming out on the bench.
The turnaround began with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter when Mallory called a quick timeout. She had just witnessed SM South trim an eight-point halftime deficit to just one, 30-29. And Mallory was none too thrilled.
“Mal yelled at us, and we didn’t want to disappoint her,” Lions guard Taylor Bird said. “When she yells at me, I take it personally and do what I can to stop the other team.”
Bird took her coach’s words to heart, as did the rest of her teammates, who became defensive pests. The Lions (7-8, 3-2 in Sunflower League play) created 19 turnovers for the game and forced particularly difficult shots for the Raiders after being chastised. Meanwhile, LHS put together an 11-0 run out of the timeout.
Lions guard Cassie Potter gave LHS some breathing room with a three-pointer to push the lead to 33-29 with 4:19 left in the third. Forward Jasmyn Turner followed with a free-throw-line jumper, Bird notched a steal and layup, and guard Jordyn Tolefree finished the run with a long jumper.
When all was said and done, the Lions led, 41-29, with six minutes left. The shutout that spanned more than 10 minutes had put the contest out of reach.
Potter said her team had developed a habit of playing poor third quarters. But Mallory’s speech snapped the Lions from their funk.
“We started playing as a team,” Potter said. “We started getting the groove back. We were all relaxed and calmed down.”
Potter, who spent the early portion of the season out due to injuries, managed a floor game that contributed greatly to that sense of ease.
“It’s nice to have everybody back and healthy because we really like to run the floor,” Bird said. “Cassie really pushes the ball, but without her, we can’t run.”
Bird led the Lions with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Potter added 11 points, Turner eight and Haley Parker seven.