FSHS girls drop regular-season finale to snap 3-game win streak

Senior Sam Lawrence (4) waits for the ball to be taken up the court in a game against Olathe South Tuesday night.

The Free State girls basketball entered Monday night’s regular season finale against Shawnee Mission Northwest full of confidence, but the Firebirds weren’t able to cool down the hot-shooting Cougars in a 66-38 loss at FSHS.

Twelve different Cougars (13-6) tallied points en route to snapping the Firebirds’ three-game winning streak.

“First thing’s first is, we have to wash it away. We did not play well,” Free State coach Ted Juneau said. “We came out flat. We were really out of sync. We played Thursday and didn’t play last Friday. Saturday, we didn’t plan to practice because we were planning to have a big classic here. Sunday, we had an optional shootaround and then they moved the game to Monday. Other teams have been in that situation, too.”

The Firebirds will do their best to erase Monday’s loss from their minds as they gear up for sub-state. Senior Sam Lawrence said that the Firebirds still have plenty of reasons to hold their heads high going into the postseason.

“Right now, I think we’re all kind of sad, but I think we’re going to shake it off by tomorrow and we’ll be ready to come out and play hard for sub-state,” said Lawrence, who scored 11 points and was one of three Firebirds in double figures. “Especially after this loss, we’re going to come out seeking revenge.”

Lawrence was joined by Hope Wheeler-Halstead and Liliana Keathley (two points) in being honored following the game in a senior night ceremony. While the Firebirds have made big strides in the second half of the season to get to the .500 mark at 10-10, it’s what Juneau’s players have accomplished off the court that stands out most to the Free State head coach.

Keathley has not decided where she will attend college yet, but she owns a nonprofit organization called “Cupcakes for Kiddos,” has won several prestigious scholarships and will study aerospace engineering. Wheeler-Halstead, who will major in elementary education at Kansas State, was a part of the first-ever LINK Crew class. Lawrence not only earned a basketball scholarship to Washburn, but also will go on to study nursing.

“What’s important is not what you did on the basketball court this year; it’s 20 years from now what you’re doing to contribute to society,” Juneau said. “I’m confident all three girls will.”

One fun aspect for the three seniors this season has been watching the younger players on the team develop. Junior Caely Kesten and sophomore Shannon Clarke netted 15 and 10 points, respectively, to join Lawrence in double figures.

“I’ve kind of been with a different group of people for the past three years,” Lawrence said. “Just to see us grow and we play together, it’s a really cool thing to see.”

Free State 9 6 12 0 — 66

SMNW 18 11 18 0 — 38

Free State (66)

Shannon Clarke 5-12 1-4 10, Sam Lawrence 4-11 1-2 11, Caely Kesten 7-10 0-0 15, Haley Hippe 0-4 0-0 0, Liliana Keathley 1-3 0-0 2, Joy Nunoo 0-0 0-0 0, Hope Wheeler-Halstead 0-0 0-0 0, Nysha McVay 0-0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-40 2-6 38.

SM Northwest (68)

Abby Winter 1-1 2-2 4, D’Asya Collier-Williams 2-5 2-4 7, Rachel Seibold 2-4 2-3 6, Kylie Dunn 3-6 0-0 8, Kennedy Taylor 5-8 3-7 13, Hannah Black 6-7 0-0 12, Megan Hanson 1-3 0-0 2, Mollie Elfrink 1-4 0-0 3, Saige Grampsas 1-1 0-0 3, Ella Mackiewicz 1-2 1-2 3, Ries Laster 0-0 2-2 2, Ericka Ojeda 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 24-42 12-20 66.

3-point goals: Free State 3-11 (Sam Lawrence 2, Caely Kesten 1); SM Northwest 6-16 (Kylie Dunn 2, Ericka Ojeda 1, Mollie Elfrink 1, Saige Grampsas 1, D’Asya Collier-Williams 1). Turnovers: Free State 14, SM Northwest 8. Fouled out: None.


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