Firebirds unable to complete comeback in overtime loss to Raiders

Free State junior Caely Kesten pulls up for a jumper in transition during a game against Shawnee Mission South at FSHS on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Despite a resilient effort, the Free State girls basketball team was unable to extend its win streak to three games.

After being down by as many 9 points in the fourth quarter, the Firebirds stormed back over the final frame to force overtime. Free State did not score in the free period, suffering a 57-47 loss to Shawnee Mission South Friday night at FSHS.

The loss spoiled what would have been the first three-game win streak for the Firebirds (7-9, 2-6 Sunflower League) since February of last year.

“It is maddening,” junior Caely Kesten. “It is irritating, but it doesn’t define us.”

But the fact that overtime was even needed was a testament to Free State’s resiliency.

Sophomore Evy Harrell kicked off the comeback bid with a bucket on the first possession of the final period. Sophomore Shannon Clarke then scored a basket on an assist from senior Lilliana Keathley, who started in place of junior Haley Hippe (injury) at the center position.

Kesten trimmed the deficit to 4 points with a hard-driving layup with her left hand. Senior Sam Lawrence then got going, netting a pull-up jumper and a triple from the left wing to pull within one possession in the waning moments.

“In the fourth quarter, even though some of us weren’t hitting the shots, we were just staying together and playing for each other,” Kesten said. “We didn’t lose confidence in our team.”

In the final seconds, Kesten misfired on a game-winning attempt from the right wing. The ball bounced off a Shawnee Mission South (5-11, 3-6) defender, giving FSHS one last try with 1.6 seconds remaining.

The play was going to Clarke the whole time. From under the basket, Kesten lobbed it up to Clarke, who netted the two-foot shot to force overtime. Free State then missed all five of its field goal attempts in the free period, committing three turnovers as well.

“I liked how hard we played,” FSHS coach Ted Juneau said. “We executed the play with 1.6 seconds left, and I thought the momentum was ours. Give South credit, they didn’t fold. We didn’t hit the shots when we needed to.”

Free State’s fourth-quarter push was necessary after getting into an early hole. The Raiders hit seven of their 12 triples in the first half to take control from the start.

In the loss, Clarke led the Firebirds with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. Kesten was the only other FSHS player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points. Shawnee Mission South was led by Lacey Whitcomb, who finished with a game-high 23 points.

“We were always trying to get out of that hole,” Juneau said. “We did some good things the whole game, but South hit some big shots.”

Free State travels to Lawrence at 5:30 p.m. Monday.


Meredith Bunker 3-10 6-6 14, Liz Crawford 0-3 0-0 0, Natalie Payne 2-6 1-4 6, Lacy Whitcomb 7-12 4-6 23, Abby Gerber 4-12 2-3 14, Katie Cooper 0-1 0-0 0, Kristina Bermond 0-2 0-2 0. Totals: 16-46 13-21 57.


Evy Harrell 2-6 0-0 4, Shannon Clarke 8-11 1-2 17, Sam Lawrence 3-18 0-0 8, Caely Kesten 6-13 0-2 13, Lilliana Keathley 1-4 0-0 2, Joy Nunoo 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 21-53 1-4 57.

SM South 19 6 18 4 OT 10 — 57

Free State 17 7 11 13 OT 10 — 47

3-point goals: SM South 12-28 (Bunker 2, Payne, Whitcomb 5, Gerber 4); Free State 4-25 (Lawrence 2, Kesten, Nunoo). Turnovers: SM South 9, Free State 8. Fouled out: Gerber, SM South.


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