E’lease Stafford leads LHS girls to road win over SM East

Lawrence High's E'Lease Stafford (40) released a shot against Shawnee Mission East Tuesday.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE — E’lease Stafford didn’t need to be reminded. ?

In the midst of a big performance and after scoring her second straight bucket to start the second quarter, Stafford trotted back on defense as a supporter in the crowd shouted out words of encouragement.

“Keep attacking,” yelled the fan.

That she did. And she was nearly flawless doing it.

Stafford missed two shots on the day, both coming from outside the 3-point line. She knocked down all eight of her 2-point attempts and added a 3-pointer and six free throws to finish LHS’ 50-38 win over Shawnee Mission East with a game-high 25 points.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anybody stop it,” said coach Jeff Dickson of Stafford’s offense driving to the basket. “Going to the basket, it’s just unstoppable. I think she’s unstoppable. I think she’s the best player in the league.”

Stafford, who was joined in double-figures by Sammy Williams (12 points, 5-for-7 shooting), didn’t just make her mark on the offensive end.

As a team, the Lions held the Lancers to just 20 percent shooting through three quarters. The Lancers were able to get their point total up to 38 with a 17-point fourth quarter, but they were held to just five and six points over the second and third, respectively.

“We came out with a lot of intensity,” Stafford said.

It was in those periods the Lions (10-3, 4-2 in league) grabbed control of the game.

This time, it was a 14-5 run — aided by a defensive wall put up inside by Stafford, Williams and Chisom Ajekwu — that gave the Lions control of the game.

While the run started in the second quarter, the Lions continued to push out their advantage into the third. The team only committed one turnover in the quarter after committing seven in the first half.

That poise was a theme of the final two periods, as, down double-digits with less than two minutes left, the Lancers continued to foul to put the Lions on the line. LHS was far from perfect, making just over 50 percent of its foul shots, but the game was already out of reach at that point.

After the game, Dickson was pleased with his team’s effort, especially with how they never let up down the stretch.

“I think if anything, it shows how hard it is to go on the road in the Sunflower League against anybody,” said Dickson. “I was proud of the way our kids gutted through a smaller rotation. … We’ll take the win and go on to the next one.”

As for Stafford, she only hoped this performance — both by herself and her team — will be repeated.

“I want to have a good game every day,” Stafford said. “I just have to have the right mindset to be able to do that.

“We’re down to like our last eight games, and as a senior, I don’t want to take anything for granted. I want to give it my all and just try to put up big numbers with my teammates.”

Lawrence (50)

Hannah Stewart 2-7 0-0 4, Leslie Ostronic 1-3 0-2 2, Talima Harjo 1-4 1-2 3, E’lease Stafford 9-11 6-9 25, Chisom Ajekwu 1-4 0-0 2, Sammy Williams 5-7 1-4 11, Tyrin Cosey 0-1 3-4 3, Asia Goodwin 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-40 11-21 50.

Shawnee Mission East (38)

Kathleen Stanley 6-15 0-0 16, Reece Althouse 1-4 0-0 2, Libby Frye 0-3 2-2 2, Jordan Yowell 1-11 3-4 5, Sarah Bingham 3-10 0-0 6, Emma Eberhart 2-4 0-1 4, Katie Hise 0-0 0-0 0, Camryn Gossick 0-1 0-0 0, Sophia Barreca 1-4 0-0 3.

Lawrence 13 12 9 16 — 50

SM East 10 5 6 17 — 38

Three-point goals: Lawrence 1-10 (Stafford 1); SM East 5-25 (Stanley 4, Barreca 1). Fouled out: Bingham, Frye. Turnovers: Lawrence 14, SM East 11.