LHS girls handle SM North, 55-45
Lawrence High girls basketball coach Jeff Dickson handed out Hot Tamales boxes to his players before Tuesday’s game against Shawnee Mission North.
Dickson wrote on the box “Unleash the beast.” The message was nothing new. In fact, Dickson did the same thing for the Lions last year. Same trick. Same outcome. The Lions rolled to a 55-45 victory in the Jungle.
After one bad stretch in the fourth quarter cost the Lions in a road loss at Olathe Northwest last week, the Lions were determined to make up for their mistakes. They opened the fourth quarter Tuesday with a 10-2 run for a 46-34 advantage.
LHS freshman center Chisom Ajekwu scored on two putbacks after a quiet first half. Freshman point guard Hannah Stewart and junior guard Oliva Lemus added three-pointers.
“Chisom just knew we needed to fire it up,” Lemus said. “She got in (foul trouble) in the first half and she was getting a little frustrated. But we picked her up in the second half and she just took over like she needed to.”
Ajekwu controlled the paint in the second half, finishing with nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. She grabbed eight boards in the fourth quarter, forcing one-and-done SM North possessions on missed shots.
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to play her position and how good she is at it,” sophomore E’lease Stafford said of Ajekwu.
In the first three quarters, Stafford controlled the offense for the Lions. Scoring a game-high 16 points, Stafford drove to the rim for layups. When smaller guards tried to slow her down, she went in the paint and posted up.
Along with Stafford, Lemus scored 15 points, Stewart had seven and junior guard Skylar Drum scored six.
“She is capable of doing that and more and more, we try to put pressure on her to step that part of her game up,” Dickson said of Stafford’s scoring. “She has those flashes and shows all that potential. She’s so team-oriented and team-first that she just wants to give it up. Tonight, she started to take advantage of the mismatches she had.”
In the third quarter, the Lions (8-9, 2-6 in the Sunflower League) traded each bucket with the Indians (7-10, 4-4). The Lions never trailed in the period but never led by more than four points. Stafford scored six points, including a coast-to-coast layup.
“Coming off a loss, I think we used that to force ourselves to play better,” Stafford said.
The Lions will play host to Olathe North at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
SHAWNEE MISSION NORTH (45)
Jazmin Williams 0-5 1-4 1, Jade Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Briana Farr 5-15 3-4 13, Katlyn Hughes 4-9 0-0 9, Ashley Ross 4-13 2-4 11, Corrie Naughton 3-3 0-2 6, Jolee Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Redick 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 18-50 6-14 45.
Hannah Stewart 2-5 2-2 7, Olivia Lemus 4-6 4-4 15, Skylar Drum 2-5 2-4 6, E’lease Stafford 5-14 5-9 16, Chisom Ajekwu 4-10 1-3 9, Gracie Reinsch 0-2 0-0 0, Talima Harjo 0-2 2-4 2, Leslie Ostronic 0-0 0-0 0, Asia Goodwin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-44 16-26 55.
SM North 6 12 14 13 — 45
Lawrence 6 14 16 19 — 55
Three-point goals: SM North 3-9 (Hughes, Ross, Redick); Lawrence 5-12 (Lemus 3, Stewart, Stafford). Fouled out: Jade Williams, Ross. Turnovers: SM North 12, Lawrence 14.