Offensive rebounds hurt LHS girls in loss to Olathe East

First shot for first shot, the Lawrence High girls basketball team hung tough with Olathe East. The problem wasn’t the first shot, though. It was the second and third ones.

The Lions, who dropped to 5-2 (2-2 in Sunflower League) with the 57-41 loss on Tuesday, tallied 21 shots in the first half, making five of them. Their opponent, on the other hand, attempted 34 — as well as 12 free throws — much due to LHS’ nine first-half turnovers and struggles on the glass.

The Lions ended the first quarter with one offensive rebound. At that point, the Hawks already had five, and they were just getting started.

“Those rebounds staked them to the lead,” LHS coach Jeff Dickson said. “We did a poor job of putting bodies on (East’s Molly Kaemmer) and she out hustled (us) and then we put her on the (free-throw) line. Critical mistakes.”

Starting center Chisom Ajekwu, who drew a large cheer from the fans during the pre-game introductions, dealt with foul trouble in the contest and struggled to find her rhythm. She picked up her second foul with just under five minutes to play in the first half and her third less than three minutes later.

That span proved critical for the Lions, who took a 10-9 lead on a tough layup from E’lease Stafford with 5:30 to play in the half.

LHS would not score again until the 2:25 mark in the quarter, when Stafford spun to the hoop and scored to snap a 10-0 Olathe East run. Stafford, who finished with a team-high 14 points, had plenty left in store.

“I though E’lease was fantastic,” Dickson said. “She played so hard through double teams. She kept us afloat in the game.”

Trailing by 8 at the half, the Lions worked their way back into the game.

After nearly getting an old-fashioned 3-point play on a Sammy Williams putback — the foul was ruled to be on the ground — the Lions pulled within two on back-to-back 3-pointers from Leslie Ostronic and Hannah Stewart.

However, it was the same problems that sunk the Lions.

Immediately following Stewart’s 3, the Hawks scored inside and picked up an offensive rebound on the ensuing free throw. Savanna Perez hit a 3 and Sydney Wilson scored on the next possession to push the lead back out to nine.

The Lions cut the margin back down to four, but the 7-0 and 10-0 runs built up too much of a cushion. The Hawks, who switched to a 2-3 zone for the fourth quarter, used another late surge to win by double figures.

“We have to go back to work,” Dickson said. “We have to bring more intensity and toughness to practice every day and not hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves.”

Olathe East (57)

Katie Gleason 2-7 0-0 5, Sydney Wilson 8-18 5-7 23, Hope Owens 1-3 0-0 3, Makenna Winemiller 3-14 4-5 10, Molly Kaemmer 2-5 5-9 9, Savanna Perez 1-6 0-0 3, Jillian Weishaar 0-0 0-0 0, Gracie Davis 0-0 4-4 4, Courtney Kearney 0-0 0-0 0, Ally Biddison 0-0 0-0 0, LaSharea Richardson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 18-25 57.

Lawrence (41)

Hannah Stewart 1-7 0-0 3, Sammy Williams 2-4 1-2 5, Talima Harjo 0-2 0-0 0, E’lease Stafford 6-16 2-3 14, Chisom Ajekwu 6-12 0-1 12, Asia Goodwin 0-2 4-6 4, Leslie Ostronic 1-3 0-0 3, Evann Seratte 0-0 0-0 0, Sophie DeWitt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-46 7-12 41.

Olathe East 9 13 15 20 — 57

Lawrence 6 8 17 10 — 41

Three-point goals: Olathe East 5-16 (Wilson 2, Gleason, Owens, Perez 1); Lawrence 2-11 (Stewart, Ostronic 1). Fouled out: Owens. Turnovers: Olathe East 8, Lawrence 12.