Two games ago, she scored a school-record 36 points. Last time out, she tallied 24.
Free State High’s Chantay Caron is on a roll, scoring 60 of the Firebirds’ 81 points in those two games.
And yet Caron never has beaten Lawrence High, and that, she stressed, is “really upsetting.”
“We go in against them thinking we’ll do well,” said the 5-foot-11 junior, “then we end up losing. It just doesn’t happen for us.”
Lawrence High will try to make it four in a row over the Firebirds tonight.
Tipoff will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Lions’ gym. Sunflower Broadband channel 6 will carry a delayed telecast at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Lawrence disposed of Free State twice last season on the way to capturing the Class 6A state championship, but the Lions struggled to overcome the Firebirds in their pre-Christmas meeting in the Firebirds’ gym.
The Lions managed only 10 points in the first half, but rallied for a 39-37 victory despite a yeoman performance from Free State’s Ashli Hill, a 6-4 junior who scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
With 4:39 remaining, however, Hill fouled out, as she has been prone to do this season.
“We need her,” Caron said of Hill, “because she’s a big body, and she can score. When she fouls out, it kills us.”
When Caron and Hill are in synch, the Firebirds are tough to beat, yet the two have been battling illnesses over the last couple of weeks.
“They haven’t missed any games,” Free State coach Bryan Duncan said, “but they haven’t practiced together in the last two weeks.”
Lawrence High features Taylor Bird, a 5-8 senior who belies her size by leading the Sunflower League in rebounding as well as ranking second in scoring.
“Basically, we have two posts to their one,” Duncan said. “And with Bird posting up, Chantay has the unique ability to guard her. But Taylor can play anywhere, much like Chantay.”
Based on current sub-state seedings, it’s almost certain the Firebirds (10-9) and the Lions (9-10) will meet for a third time next week. Moreover, tonight’s winner will play host to that Thursday first-rounder. And with the sub-state finals scheduled next weekend at Free State, that gives the Firebirds added incentive.
Still, Caron and the Firebirds know Lawrence High’s gym is the most hostile venue they’ll play in all season.
“It’s crazy in there,” Caron said. “It’s crowded, and it’s hard to concentrate. But them coming to our gym is just as hard as it for us to go to theirs.”