The Free State High boys had a chance to snag a basketball victory in the final seconds against Lansing, but the game was lost long before.
FSHS fell at home, 46-44, and the Firebirds said they have only themselves to blame after a woeful fourth quarter.
“We put ourselves in this position,” senior Tyler Self said. “We still think we’re the better team.”
The Firebirds were struggling to keep up with the Lions in the first half, but opened the third quarter on a 16-6 run to take a six-point lead heading into the fourth. That’s when the Lions took back control.
“We lost our minds,” coach Chuck Law said. “Careless, careless turnovers. We don’t value the basketball enough.”
Several times in crucial situations, the Firebirds gave the ball away and let the Lions feed on the mistakes. With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Lansing missed a key free throw while leading by one. Senior Shawn Knighton brought the ball up the floor with a chance to take the lead, but Lansing’s Izaiah Grice poked the ball away, went the other direction and earned two free throws, which he made.
After some missed free throws down the stretch, the Firebirds found themselves down 46-44 with just a few seconds left. The inbounds pass made it up the floor in a hurry, and senior Brett Frantz found an open Self behind the three-point line. FSHS still had a timeout, but this opportunity was too good for Law to pass up.
“I thought about punching one, but we couldn’t ask for a better look than that,” Law said. “I thought it was going in.”
So did Self.
“It felt good leaving my hand,” Self said. “It was kind of contested, but I was pretty open. I though I had a chance, but it didn’t roll our way.”
Self, who had a team-high 12 points, had made both of his three-point attempts until that point. The ball bounced off the rim, and the clock expired.
After the game, Law said that Lansing (4-0), the No. 1 team in Class 5A, is not getting enough respect in the area. Still, this was a missed opportunity for the Firebirds (2-1).
“That would have been a great win for us,” Law said. “Hopefully, we can learn from that.”