After a rough stretch that included four losses in five games, Free State High’s boys basketball team has flipped the script and won two games in a row.
It seems like perfect timing for the Firebirds, who will face Buhler (5-3) in the first round of the McPherson Invitational at 6:30 p.m. today at McPherson High.
“It’s always something we look forward to every year,” senior Cole Moreano said. “We usually start playing well right around this time, around the tournament. Hopefully we can keep winning after these two wins.”
The Firebirds (6-4) are coming off an exciting 59-56 overtime victory against Olathe Northwest on Friday, which featured plenty of lead changes and a buzzer-beater in regulation.
“Everybody is in a really good mood, excited and positive,” Moreano said. “It’s always a good thing, winning close ones like that. Hopefully it carries over.”
Junior Keegan McKinney added: “I think that was the best game we came out loose in. We played well, especially for the first half. We struggled a little bit early in the second, but I think we got our momentum back under us. Hopefully we have our feet back under us for the rest of the season.”
Tournament week is a welcomed break from Sunflower League play and also a chance for the team to spend extra time together with three games in three days.
“We’re really excited,” senior Tristan Garber said. “Team bonding is always fun. We’re on a streak, we’re starting to play more as a team. Everybody is starting to find a niche what they do for the team.”
The Firebirds haven’t played Buhler since earning a two-point win two years ago.
In the second round, FSHS will face McPherson (8-0, ranked No. 1 in Class 1-4A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association) or Wichita-North (4-5).
Shawnee Mission East (7-2, ranked No. 9 in 6A) and Derby (7-3) are on the other side of the bracket and could play Free State in its final game.
“We want to play the top teams in the state,” McKinney said. “We know we can compete with them, we want to play them, and we want to get the chance. We’re looking forward to it.”