OVERLAND PARK — After losing back-to-back games to begin 2018, the Lawrence High girls basketball team got back to its winning ways on Friday with a 62-30 victory over Shawnee Mission North.
Senior Talima Harjo had the Lions (6-2 overall, 3-2 in the Sunflower League) rolling from the opening tip with two assists and a 3-pointer in their first three possessions. Harjo had the hot hand from behind the arc — knocking down 5 of her 7 attempts from 3-point range — and led the Lions with 22 points.
"I wasn't shooting in the two losses. I was kind of getting down on myself," Harjo said while looking back on the Lions' losses to Gardner-Edgerton (No. 6 in Class 6A) and Olathe East (No. 2 in 6A). "During practice I was shooting, shooting — just kept shooting. Finally during the game, I found my rhythm. I just had a lot of confidence this game."
LHS girls basketball vs. SMN
Lawrence High senior Talima Harjo scored a game-high 22 points in the Lions' 62-30 win over Shawnee Mission North on Friday. Leslie Ostronic added 12 points, and E'lease Stafford and Chisom Ajekwu chipped in 10 apiece.
While the Lions have a force down low in junior center Chisom Ajekwu and a pure scorer in senior E'lease Stafford, Lawrence coach Jeff Dickson has encouraged Harjo and her teammates to not be afraid to take their fair share of shots as well.
"We somehow got away from that a little bit to where we only focused on two people. Everybody had been like, 'Here E'lease. You do it,' or 'Here Chisom. You do it,'" Dickson said. "Nobody else wanted to step up. We really, really challenged our kids this last week to realize that we need all five people on the floor to be a threat.
"We've been running and running and running every time someone doesn't take a shot we think they should take. It was very gratifying to see them step out there and obviously making those shots, but I was just happy they took them."
The Lions (No. 7 in 6A) went into a little bit of a lull in the first quarter after Harjo helped them out to a quick 7-0 start, but they more then made up for lost time in the second. Lawrence outscored SM North, 27-9, in the second quarter to take a 23-point advantage into the break. Harjo drained two treys and had a traditional 3-point play during the Lions' offensive outburst in the second quarter.
For Dickson, it was a pleasant surprise to see the senior shooting with confidence after she only attempted two shots against Olathe East.
"As the season goes on, now people are aware that, 'Hey. You've got to focus on her,' and they start putting better defenders on her," Dickson said. "She had to kind of work through that."
While Harjo led the way, the Lions had four players score in double figures with junior Leslie Ostronic adding 12 points and Ajekwu and Stafford chipping in 10 apiece. Ostronic was also dialed in from long distance — hitting 3 of her 5 shots from deep.
"We just want everyone to score and have that confidence," Harjo said. "Anyone can shoot. Just shoot the ball if you feel like it's going to go in."
The Lions will be back in action against Liberty (Mo.) at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the first round of the 40th Annual Truman High School Girls Varsity Basketball Tournament.
LAWRENCE HIGH (62)
Hannah Stewart 0-6 1-2 1, Leslie Ostronic 4-6 1-2 12, Sammy Williams 1-5 2-4 4, Talima Harjo 8-11 1-1 22, Asia Goodwin 0-1 0-0 0, E'lease Stafford 3-8 1-2 10, Chisom Ajekwu 5-7 0-0 10, Sophie DeWitt 1-5 0-0 3, Evann Seratte 0-0 0-0 0, Ozi Ajekwu 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-43 6-11 62.
SHAWNEE MISSION NORTH (30)
Kylie Dunn 0-5 0-3 0, Tiana Lee 0-2 0-0 0, Mackenzie Vielhauer 1-3 0-0 2, Kiara Williams 1-8 0-0 2, Hannah Redick 2-6 0-0 6, LeLe Love 4-13 2-4 10, Keagan Stiers 4-7 0-2 10, Madison Koller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 2-7 30.
Lawrence 10 27 16 9 — 62
SM North 5 9 6 10 — 30
3-point goals: LHS 10-26 (Harjo 5, Ostronic 3, Stafford, DeWitt); SMN 4-22 (Stiers 2, Redick 2). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: LHS 8, SMN 13.