A coin-flip tie-breaker might have done Lawrence High’s boys basketball team a bit of a favor.
The Lions (13-7) earned the No. 4 seed in their Class 6A sub-state tournament, but there was a tie for the No. 5 seed between Gardner-Edgerton (12-8) and Olathe East (12-8).
Saturday morning, a flip of a coin decided Lawrence’s fate. LHS will face No. 5 O-East, a familiar Sunflower League foe, instead of GEHS, out of the Eastern Kansas League, which received the No. 6 seed.
Lawrence coach Mike Lewis said he likes the match-up awaiting his team at 7 tonight at LHS.
“It’s nice that we know what we’re getting into,” Lewis said. “With Gardner, it would’ve been a little bit more of a guessing game to a certain extent.”
LHS won at Olathe East, 51-41, on Feb. 17. Lions senior guard Anthony Buffalomeat said familiarity with the Hawks will be just part of the equation.
“We’ve got confidence, beating them the first time, but we have a lot of things we need to work on for (tonight), so we can’t take them lightly at all,” Buffalomeat said.
While executing against O-East’s 3-2 zone, which LHS had trouble doing in the first quarter in the teams’ previous meeting before finishing the game with seven three-pointers, is one concern, there is also the question of KJ Pritchard’s availability. The 6-foot-5 Lawrence senior guard severely sprained his right ankle a few hours before the Lions’ Friday victory over Free State at LHS.
Lewis said the coaching staff planned for the sub-state opener anticipating a worst-case scenario of Pritchard sitting out. Whether he ends up playing will be a game-day decision, likely hours before tipoff.
While the Lions managed a 38-36 victory without Pritchard on Friday and now have some experience playing without their leading scorer, Buffalomeat said it would be a blow to try that again versus O-East.
“He’s our main player, basically, and he’s a leader,” Buffalomeat said. “All of us have to step up and take over his role.”
The winner tonight will play Saturday at Leavenworth against No. 1 seed Olathe Northwest (19-1) or No. 8 Olathe North (4-16).
Between seniors Logan Henrichs, Troy Willoughby and Buffalomeat, juniors Jake Mosiman, Shane Willoughby, Tyrone Jenkins and Austin Abbott and sophomore center Bryce Montes de Oca, Lewis will have plenty of options for the rematch with the Hawks.
“They’re a balanced team, and we’ll have to be pretty balanced ourselves,” the coach said.
Junior guard Kyle Smith leads the Hawks with 13.1 points a game and has made 52 three-pointers this season. LHS held him to nine points and 2-for-9 three-point shooting in their win just 13 days ago, but Lewis said the Lions will have to keep an eye on him and play team defense to slow him down a second time.
“He wasn’t quite as aggressive against us that night,” the coach said. “I think he’ll be more aggressive.”
In the rematch, Lewis said the Lions need to do a better job against the Hawks’ pressure defense and shoot the ball well again (LHS went 19-for-38 from the floor, 7-for-13 on three-pointers) if they want to advance.