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High School Sports

High School Sports

Ailing Firebirds fall at Wichita SE

March 8, 2014

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Box score

FREE STATE (57)

Tristan Garber 0-1 1-2 1, Blake Winslow 3-5 1-3 7, Cole Moreano 5-11 4-6 17, Keith Loneker 1-4 0-0 2, Weston Hack 0-2 0-0 0, Justin Narcomey 1-4 0-0 3, Innocent Anavberokhai 0-1 0-1 0, Khadre Lane 8-15 11-15 27. Totals 18-43 17-27 57.

WICHITA SOUTHEAST (72)

EJ Garnes 6-10 6-10 18, D’Andre Franklin 3-5 1-2 9, Jerrick Harding 6-15 4-4 18, PJ Ruffin 0-2 0-0 0, DeQuan Love 1-3 0-0 2, Reagan Oyugi 3-6 1-2 7, Junior Joseph 1-1 0-0 2, Jordan Murdock 7-17 0-0 16. Totals 27-59 12-18 72.

Free State 15 18 8 16 — 57

Wichita SE 19 11 18 24 — 72

Three-point goals: Wichita Southeast 6-17 (Murdock 2, Franklin 2, Harding 2); Free State 4-13 (Moreano 3, Narcomey). Fouled out: Oyugi, Loneker. Turnovers: Wichita Southeast 6, Free State 14.

— Free State High senior Cole Moreano was hitting big shots, finding his teammates for easy layups and grabbing tough rebounds in the Class 6A sub-state championship game on Saturday night. Then his right shoulder popped out of joint.

Moreano exited late in the third quarter and re-injured his shoulder during a brief stint in the fourth quarter, and the Firebirds offense couldn’t keep up with Wichita Southeast’s quick guards in a 72-57 loss.

Free State ended its season with a 12-10 record.

“Whenever we needed a point, I would give (Moreano) the ball, and he’d hit a three,” FSHS senior Khadre Lane said. “That’s exactly what we needed. It sucked having him out, but he had a great career, great season, so nothing to hang our heads about.”

The Firebirds trailed by five points with 4:58 remaining after senior Keith Loneker converted a layup, but the Buffaloes (17-5, ranked No. 8 in 6A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association) followed with a 9-2 run. Free State missed four consecutive shots in the stretch as Moreano tried to play through the pain when he re-entered midway through the fourth quarter before the pain in his shoulder was too much.

“It’s pretty much a bummer,” Moreano said. “We had been playing well, and I was on. It just gave out on me — again.”

Free State struggled to keep up with Wichita Southeast point guard EJ Garnes, as he dribbled through defenders with speed that the Firebirds haven’t seen all season. Garnes finished with 18 points and numerous assists, finding his teammates open for layups or three-pointers.

“They’re just so quick,” FSHS coach Chuck Law said. “Hard to simulate that. You don’t see that kind of quickness against anybody who we play on a regular basis. ... We knew that was going to be problem if Garnes got going.”

The Buffaloes led 42-36 and were in the middle of a 7-0 run when Moreano was forced to exit in the third quarter. Afterward, Lane took control of the Firebirds offense. He drove to the basket for a layup before junior Justin Narcomey drained a three-pointer on the next possession to cut the score to three points. Wichita Southeast sophomore D’Andre Franklin answered with a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Lane, an athletic 6-foot-4 wing, opened the fourth quarter by driving to his left near the baseline and throwing down a vicious dunk. However, the referees called him for a technical foul when he celebrated the dunk. The Buffaloes made the two free throws from the technical, and Garnes converted a layup on the following possession.

“Just little spurts that they went on, and we didn’t have an answer for them on really either end of the court because of their speed,” Law said. “They’re great basketball players.”

Afterward, Lane made two consecutive trips to the free-throw line as he drove to the basket, before the Buffaloes’ defense adjusted and drew a few charges to force Lane to shoot jumpers.

“They started rotating a lot better once I got a couple of layups,” Lane said. “I should have known to pull up. That was bad on my part. They were fast. I should have known that they would have been able to get there.”

Moreano and Lane scored all of Free State’s 18 points in the second quarter. Moreano passed the ball to Lane for open layups and a thunderous dunk, while Lane kicked the ball out to Moreano for two three-pointers, giving the Firebirds a 33-30 halftime lead.

“That’s a big blow,” Law said about Moreano’s injury. “He had a great first half. We can do some stuff with him that makes us difficult to guard. Not having him out there, he’s kind of the heart and soul of this team. That was a big blow.”

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