FSHS girls fall to Olathe Northwest

For three quarters, Free State’s girls basketball players nearly matched one of the top teams in the Sunflower League. They just wish they could have a few plays back in the fourth quarter.

The Firebirds had a few defensive breakdowns against Olathe Northwest in the last eight minutes Friday and they paid the price by giving up points on five straight possessions in a 60-50 loss at FSHS.

Trailing by four points entering the fourth quarter, the Firebirds only scored two points in the first four minutes. Suddenly, they found themselves down by 13.

“We played hard in the fourth quarter, but we didn’t execute the way we wanted to,” Free State coach Ted Juneau said.

Olathe Northwest junior Sarah Beth Gueldner took advantage with 10 points in the fourth quarter, totaling 20 in the second half. The 5-foot-9 guard had four blocked shots and three steals to set herself up with fast-break opportunities.

In the first three quarter, each time the Ravens (7-1, 5-0 in Sunflower League) looked on the verge of pulling away, the Firebirds would find a way to respond with key baskets. That includes Free State’s 7-0 run in the second quarter, which featured a 3-pointer from Mayela Edwards (seven points).

But the only basket in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter was a jump shot from sophomore point guard Caely Kesten (15 points), who drew a full-court press for most of the night.

“I guarantee you we’ve probably played three or four teams in the last couple of weeks that are going to be at the state tournament,” Juneau said. “I told the girls, you’ve got a chance to play in that state tournament. I really feel that way. I don’t think these kids have quit. I think they understand that we’re playing good teams and we’re playing them tough.”

In the first half, the Firebirds (0-8, 0-4) received an offensive lift from sophomore forward Haley Hippe, who showed her aggressiveness in the paint. Hippe finished with 12 points and three rebounds.

Cutting down on turnovers — Free State only had 13 — it allowed the FSHS offense to keep up with the fast-paced Ravens, who displayed strong passing to open up 3-point shooters.

The Firebirds know they’ve seen progress throughout the season and are confident it will show up on the scoreboard in the near future.

“We can’t get discouraged,” said FSHS freshman Shannon Clarke, who had seven points, nine rebounds and five assists. “We have to go out every game with a new mentality.”

Olathe Northwest (60)

Mary Reiber 2-6 2-2 7, Erika Boeh 1-3 0-0 3, Sara Beth Gueldner 9-25 5-6 24, Christen Curry 3-5 1-2 8, Taylor Cass 1-3 0-0 2, Liz Thomas 2-6 0-0 6, Kaylie Kappleman 3-6 3-4 10, Shayna Espy 0-2 0-0 0, Riley Wade 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Cass 0-0 0-0 0, Joan Reiber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-56 11-14 60.

Free State (50)

Sam Lawrence 2-8 0-1 4, Caely Kesten 5-14 4-4 15, Shannon Clarke 1-8 5-6 7, Haley Hippe 5-7 2-2 12, Erin Cushing 1-4 0-0 2, Mayela Edwards 3-5 0-0 7, Joy Nunoo 0-0 0-0 0, Liliana Keathley 0-1 0-0 0, Erin McClorey 0-1 0-0 0, Evie Harrell 0-0 0-0 0, Lauryn Jones 1-1 0-0 3, Hope Wheeler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 11-13 50.

Northwest 12 11 20 17 — 60

Free State 10 11 18 11 — 50

Three-point goals: Northwest 7-22 (Thomas 2, Reiber, Boeh, Gueldner, Curry, Kappleman); Free State 3-11 (Kesten, Edwards, Jones). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: Northwest 7, Free State 13.