Free State coach Bryan Duncan oftentimes jokes that he’s a really good offensive coach when his team is able to get 3-on-1s and 2-on-1s.
Free State girls basketball v. Topeka High
Images from Tuesday night's game against Topeka High at Free State High School.
The Firebirds defense provided him many opportunities to look like an offensive guru Tuesday, as the Free State girls rolled to a 55-31 victory over Topeka High.
FSHS forced 12 first-half giveaways and took advantage in transition while building an early lead.
“I thought our defensive intensity created a lot of opportunities for us,” Duncan said. “I think overall, we just kind of wore them down as the game went on.”
Duncan was especially happy with the early focus from senior guard Kennedy Kirkpatrick.
“She controlled the tempo of the game, particularly on the offensive end,” Duncan said. “That set the tone for everybody else.”
She was no slouch on the defensive end, either.
The senior had five first-half steals, taking advantage of desperate Topeka High players who were trying to get passes around Free State’s pesky guards A’Liyah Rogers and Ciara Carey.
Topeka High finished with 18 turnovers.
“The running game was really good actually, which set up the inside game,” FSHS junior Scout Wiebe said. “It was all about the running game. It helped us.”
Free State also benefited from taking good shots when having to play in the half court.
The Firebirds made 22 of 50 field goals (44 percent), including 3 of 7 threes (43 percent).
“The ball was moving quick tonight, and people were cutting hard to the basket,” Duncan said. “Nothing fancy. ... Sometimes simple stuff when you give good effort is very effective.”
Topeka High, meanwhile, suffered from poor shot selection and bad body language, making just 12 of 49 field goals (24 percent) and 2 of 14 threes (14 percent).
Free State was never seriously challenged, leading 17-9 after the first quarter before putting together an 8-2 run over the next 3:20.
The Firebirds didn’t let up, either, outscoring the Trojans (0-1) in each period.
“Especially coming out in the third quarter ... honestly, we’ve been just awful,” Kirkpatrick said. “So that was one of my things: Just keep going at them and going at them, and hopefully they wear down, and they did.”
Wiebe led Free State, scoring 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Kirkpatrick also posted 16 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds and five steals.
Chelsea Casady added nine points for FSHS (3-1).
“We definitely controlled the game, which was improvement from our first game up to now,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’re continuing to get better.”
The Firebirds next take on Lawrence High in the city showdown on Friday at LHS.