Olathe Free State High senior Jake Miller set a school record with 35 points against Olathe East on Tuesday night, but only a few of those came with the Firebirds in the basketball game.
Despite Miller’s outstanding individual effort, the Firebirds dropped their seventh straight game, 74-60, and fell to 1-7 on the season.
“Right now, during the middle of the season where we’re 1-7, that record doesn’t mean much to me,” Miller said. “Maybe someday I’ll look back and be able to appreciate it, but right now the only thing I’m focusing on is finding a way for us to win games.”
Miller, who was 11-of-17 from the floor and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line Tuesday, broke Brady Morningstar’s school record of 34 points by a single tally. Morningstar, now a starter for the Kansas University men’s basketball team, set the old record during a 76-73 sub-state victory against Lawrence High in 2004.
Miller’s record-setting night was the highlight of an otherwise rough outing for the Firebirds. The senior guard scored nine of the team’s 11 first-quarter points and 22 of Free State’s 24-point halftime total.
“He was special tonight,” Free State coach Chuck Law said of Miller. “And it wasn’t like they weren’t aware of who he was. They knew that he was our only double-digit scorer coming in, and he still put up 35.”
Despite Miller’s best effort on offense, Olathe East raced to a 26-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and led, 44-24, at halftime. The Hawks shot 7-for-11 from three-point land in the first half and finished the night with nine three-pointers. In addition, Olathe East shot 62 percent from the floor for the game.
“We had to pick our poison,” Law said. “If we would have come out and guarded them, they would’ve dribble-penetrated and scored in the paint all night. So our gameplan was to take that away and to force some of their other guys to shoot from the outside to beat us. And those kids beat us in the first half.”
Miller did his best to keep the Firebirds close, matching the Hawks bucket-for-bucket in the early going. But after his ninth point of the night cut the Hawks’ lead to 13-9, O-East ripped off a 13-2 run to close the quarter. The run basically buried the Firebirds.
East scored the first two buckets of the second quarter to build a 19-point lead at 30-11. The lead reached as high as 25 points in the second half —56-31 — before Free State staged a comeback to make the final margin respectable.
The Firebirds opened the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run and outscored the Hawks, 18-12, in the final quarter.
“I love playing for a team that doesn’t quit,” Miller said. “If we didn’t play like that, it wouldn’t be as much fun. The wins are going to start coming. We just have to keep working hard.”