Free State High girls basketball coach Bryan Duncan isn’t a huge believer in the home-court advantage.
That’s not to say he and the Firebirds (10-10) don’t enjoy playing at FSHS, because they do. Duncan simply focuses more on what’s happening on the court than in the stands.
Tonight, though, Duncan is glad to be the home team.
“(They are) one team you don’t want to go and have to play in ‘The Dungeon,’” Duncan said of the Firebirds’ first round sub-state matchup against Topeka High, at 7 tonight at FSHS.
“Because I think that truly is a tremendous home-court advantage for them.”
Despite the fifth-seeded Trojans’ 9-11 record, Duncan noted that they were ranked third in 6A before losing a star player earlier this season and still feature talented low-post threat Daria Sprew, who averages 17.4 points per game.
Though Duncan admitted defending the post isn't one of his team’s strengths, he commended sophomores Abbey and Chelsea Casady — both only 5-foot-9 — for their ability to guard bigger, stronger players down low despite playing out of position.
“It’s shown the growth of our team,” Duncan said.
Only a handful of current players saw time during FSHS’s run to the state tournament last season, and most played only sparingly.
But Duncan is confident that his sophomores — most notably the Casady sisters and Kennedy Kirkpatrick — and juniors Jackie Garcia and Lynn Robinson have the toughness and desire to lead the way.
“It’s going to be a defining moment for our team,” Duncan said. “Can we knock off one of these teams to get back to the state tournament?”