Leavenworth — Out of the ordinary was the theme of the night Tuesday for Free State High’s girls basketball team.
Firebirds coach Bryan Duncan wasn’t exactly sure how his team pulled off a 55-48 win at Leavenworth after making just two of its 14 shot attempts in the fourth quarter. But, hey, it worked.
It helped that FSHS (12-3) didn’t turn the ball over once in the final eight minutes, and that Chelsea Casady, Scout Wiebe and Lynn Robinson each went 2-for-2 at the free-throw line.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Duncan said, “but we did enough.”
Winning in such fashion against the Pioneers (5-10), Wiebe said, was hard to describe.
“It was kind of gross,” she said of the Firebirds’ seventh straight victory. “It was not a great game.”
Wiebe, a sophomore, got her first start of the season in the absence of Abbey Casady, who was performing at a choir concert. The fill-in starter had seven points and five rebounds — the biggest coming on the defensive end with 30 seconds left in the game. Senior Jackie Garcia tipped the ball to keep it alive after LHS missed a three-pointer, and Wiebe secured the ball and was fouled.
With Free State up 51-48, the sophomore went to the foul line for a one-and-one and sank both shots to give the Firebirds some much needed separation.
Duncan said plays like that made a difference on a “backwards” night when the Firebirds didn’t have their normal rotation and missed shots they usually make with ease.
FSHS led 42-40 entering the fourth, but the Pioneers took a 47-44 lead before junior sub A’Liyah Rogers knocked in a three-pointer to tie the game. Rogers was set up for the shot thanks to an offensive rebound by Ariana Frantz.
Junior Kennedy Kirkpatrick, who led Free State with 16 points, hit one free throw at the 3:49 mark, and the Firebirds led from that point on.
“We still found ways to win, even when we shoot that poorly,” Duncan said after the Firebirds hit 18 of their 57 shots (32 percent).
Chelsea Casady scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter to help FSHS keep up with Leavenworth.
It took the Firebirds most of the first half to get into a groove. Free State went 2-for-15 in the first quarter and trailed by as many as seven points in the second quarter, which began with turnovers on each of the team’s first three possessions.
FSHS, though, finally started playing with more energy on the defensive end of the floor in the second, when the visitors harassed Leavenworth into 11 turnovers, with Wiebe and Kirkpatrick both swiping a pair of steals.
Kirkpatrick scored Free State’s first basket of the second quarter on a drive from the left wing with four minutes to go in the half. After she hit 1 of 2 free throws at the 3:42 mark, Robinson scored the Firebirds’ last three field goals of the quarter. The crafty senior guard, who finished with 13 points, hit two from downtown in that stretch, including one from the right corner with just one second left.
At 5:30 p.m. Friday, Free State plays at Olathe South.