Lawrence High girls suffer lopsided loss against Olathe East
OLATHE — It has been quite some time since the Lawrence High girls basketball team has been in this position.
LHS looked like a shell of its former self throughout its 58-33 loss at Olathe East Tuesday night. The Lions struggled with their rotation on defense, giving up an abundance of layups. On offense, several individuals put it on themselves to claw Lawrence back into the league affair.
By the end, Jeff Dickson’s squad suffered its most lopsided loss since Jan. 9, 2015.
“They have been here before, it has just been awhile,” Dickson said. “Tomorrow will be telling. I know these girls, and I know they are going to respond the right way. People haven’t heard the last of us, I can tell you that.”
The Hawks (6-1, 3-0 Sunflower League) deserve credit for a convincing win between the two programs that finished at the top of the Sunflower League a year ago. Olathe East, which has won the league in each of the last two seasons, never trailed after taking a 6-5 advantage at the 2:01 mark in the opening period.
But Lawrence (4-2, 1-1) is still trying recapture a version of what has made this program a formidable threat on a nightly basis the last two years. LHS was anything but that during its first league loss of the season, which marked the team’s seventh defeat in its previous 26 outings against Sunflower League competition.
“We are a little spoiled sometimes,” Dickson said. “We think because we have our name in the rankings every year now and it is a big game when people play us, I think we think that carries a little more swagger. It doesn’t put points on the board, and it doesn’t get stops either.”
It was that way for the Lions from the very beginning.
Senior center Chisom Ajekwu picked up a pair of fouls within the first two minutes to force the KU signee to sit the rest of the opening quarter. LHS missed its first six attempts from the free-throw line, spoiling an opportunity to take an early advantage.
To close out the opening period, senior Hannah Stewart netted a layup at the buzzer to trim the deficit to 2 points.
The second quarter was a strong battle between two contrasting styles of play. Olathe East used a guard-heavy lineup, which featured a lot of driving layups and kickout 3-pointers. LHS tried to capitalize on its size advantage, feeding senior Sammy Williams and Ajekwu a heavy dose of post-ups.
For a brief moment, the Lions appeared to be winning the stylistic battle. Once they cut it to 4 points, though, the Hawks responded with 7 unanswered points in the final two minutes to take a 30-19 advantage at the intermission.
“We pride ourselves on pulling together when it gets tough and not pulling apart,” Dickson said. “I felt like tonight was a perfect example of a group that pulled apart. Everybody thought they had to do it.”
Olathe East broke the game open with a 20-point third period, but Dickson knows his team can show better fight on off nights like Tuesday. He also knows that his team has the veteran experience to expect better moving forward.
Ajekwu finished with a team-high 12 points, but needed 17 shots to do so. Stewart connected on just two attempts, finishing with 7 points. Senior Leslie Ostronic, junior Sophie DeWitt and sophomore Ozi Ajekwu combined for just 8 points.
But Dickson was more disappointed with Lawrence’s performance on the defensive end. And he puts the most blame for that showing on a person that didn’t even play a second against Olathe East.
“I think that comes back on me as a coach, because, obviously, we are not spending the time working on the things we need to,” Dickson said. “I hope that this is something that sticks with them for a while, because we haven’t lost by that much in years.”
LHS plays host to Shawnee Mission North at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Hannah Stewart 2-10 2-2 7, Leslie Ostronic 0-2 2-2 2, Sammy Williams 1-4 2-6 4, Sophie DeWitt 1-3 0-0 2, Chisom Ajekwu 6-17 0-0 12, Ozi Ajekwu 2-7 0-6 4, Layla Harjo 1-2 0-0 2, Kylie Lamb 0-1 0-0 0, Evann Seratte 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-47 6-16 33.
Olathe East (58)
Jillian Weishaar 1-3 2-2 5, Gracie Davis 1-4 1-2 3, Makenna Winemiller 8-14 2-3 21, Molly Kaemmer 5-8 4-4 14, LaSharea Richardson 2-3 0-0 4, Aubrey Rogers 0-3 0-0 0, Savanna Perez 3-5 0-0 8, Courtney Kearney 1-2 1-2 3, Michelle Schneller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 10-13 58.
Lawrence 9 10 8 6 — 33
Olathe East 11 19 20 8 — 58
Three-point goals: Lawrence 1-9 (Stewart); Olathe East 6-12 (Weishaar, Winemiller 3, Perez 2). Turnovers: Lawrence 13, Olathe East 7. Fouled out: None.