Free State boys drop 52-51 nail-biter to Olathe East
After Ethan Lincoln’s 3-point attempt missed the net, Free State coach Sam Stroh wasn’t too concerned about what shot the Firebirds would take on their last chance at sending the game to overtime, down three points to Olathe East with 5.6 seconds on the clock.
Instead of inbounding it outside the arc for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, senior Noah Butler got the ball inside the paint and attempted an easy layup to cut the deficit to one point.
Butler’s basket gave him 27 points on the night, but the team walked silently to the scorers’ table to shake hands following a 52-51 loss to Olathe East Tuesday night at FSHS.
“We needed to get the ball in to get a three, and just couldn’t get it in. We settled for the two and we were out of timeouts,” Stroh said. “We didn’t deserve to win. They played better than us; they earned it. We had one guy show up, and we’ll get better from it.”
To start the half, Free State (8-3, 4-2 Sunflower League) responded to a 3-point deficit with an 8-0 run. The Firebirds (No. 8 in Class 6A) outscored the Hawks, 16-8, in the third quarter and took a 37-33 lead heading into the fourth.
Lincoln made a late-game 3-pointer, Free State’s only triple of the game, but it would end up not being enough.
Butler only missed two shots and a free throw attempt on the night. DK Middleton scored 8 points on 4-of-7 shooting and Mozae Downing scored 2 points on four shots. Aside from those three, no other Firebird finished with more than two shot attempts from the field.
“I just need to get my teammates more involved and look for them first, everyone can just click,” Butler said. “We’ll be unstoppable.”
Olathe East (8-5, 3-2) had a stretch of three 3-pointers in the final period to take control of the contest. The sharpshooting Hawks continued to make shots late in the game to finish with a 50 percent clip from the field, and secured their lead by not missing any attempts from the charity stripe.
“Even if we won the game, I told them afterward that we can’t come out slow and play catch-up the whole game,” Stroh said. “I thought we battled back pretty well in the second half, but we had too much mental errors down the stretch.”
Free State will play host to Shawnee Mission East at 7 p.m. Friday.
Olathe East (52)
Jake Reynolds 5-10 0-0 12, Robert Kulberg 3-4 1-2 7, Charlie Bell 4-9 2-2 11, Nasib Addison 0-1 0-0 0, Kamari Armstrong 4-10 2-2 11, Sam Carrol 2-4 0-0 5, Andrew Sonner 2-4 1-2 6. Toals 20-42 6-8 52.
Free State (51)
Mozae Downing 1-4 0-0 2, Noah Butler 11-13 5-6 27, DK Middleton 4-7 0-0 8, Andrew Piper 1-1 0-0 2, Ethan Lincoln 1-3 0-0 3, Turner Corcoran 1-1 1-2 3, Ryan Stacey 2-3 0-0 4, Alyus Wisdom 0-1 2-2 2, Jackson Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Jaxson Malone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-33 8-10 51.
Olathe East 16 8 9 19 – 52
Free State 9 12 16 14 – 51
3-point goals: East 6-15 (Reynolds 2, Bell, Armstrong, Carrol, Sonner); Free State 1-5 (Lincoln). Turnovers: East 11, Free State 14. Fouled out: None.