Overland Park About half a quarter is what it took — by Chuck Law’s estimation — for his Free State High boys basketball team to take itself out of Tuesday’s game against host Shawnee Mission West.
The Firebirds, coming off an encouraging overtime victory over Olathe Northwest on Friday, amassed just four first-quarter points and didn’t connect on their first field goal attempt until the 6:41 mark of the second quarter before falling 47-34 to the Vikings.
“It was like watching a train wreck in the first half,” said Law, who didn’t make players available following the game. “... That game was over in the first four minutes.”
It was difficult to argue with his logic.
Shawnee Mission West forced 10 Free State turnovers in the first two quarters and shot 5-of-7 from the field in the second quarter, while Free State managed just 10 total shots in the first half against a Vikings’ zone defense that proved particularly effective.
After a quarter, the Firebirds trailed 12-4, and at halftime, Shawnee Mission West had essentially put the game out of reach, extending its lead to 23-10.
“We just came out not ready to play against their zone,” Law said. “We were passing it around the top of the key, we weren’t trying to get to the basket, weren’t trying to get in there and rebound.”
The result was an offensive performance that was as anemic as last Friday’s was explosive.
After a come-from-behind victory over Olathe Northwest that Law said he hoped his team could build upon, the Firebirds shot just 10-of-33 from the field Tuesday and none of the team’s players finished in double-digits in scoring (Alec Heline led Free State with eight points, and Ryan Scott and Sebastian Bonner added seven apiece).
The Firebirds (7-10, 3-5 in the Sunflower League) eventually managed to recover a bit, matching the Vikings in second-half points and winning the turnover battle, 12-5, in the final two quarters.
They cut the SM West lead to six, 34-28, early in the fourth quarter. But the defense wasn’t able to get key stops when it needed them, as the Vikings (10-7, 4-6) made three of their four field goals attempts down the stretch and connected on 9-of-12 free throws to pull away.
Matt Kieffer finished with a team-high 15 points, while Bradley Foss added 12 points and five rebounds for SM West.
“We were a little too comfortable tonight,” said Law, whose team will play Olathe South at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home. “And we got what we deserved.”