The Dividing Line
Free State High's girls swimming team has competed at five meets this spring and only one team — defending Class 6A champion Shawnee Mission East — has found a way to keep the Firebirds out of first place.
FSHS picked up its fourth team title of the season April 9 at home (the Firebirds finished second to SME at the Olathe Invitational on April 5), and coach Annette McDonald said the team's combination of productive veterans and progressing new members have made such success possible: "We have a very talented team in all aspects."
Sophomore Courtney Caldwell, the defending 6A state champion in the 50 free and 100 free, is just one of many who have helped the Firebirds rack up points. Freshmen Cierra Campbell and Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, sophomores Haley Johnson and Kat LaFever, junior Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck and senior Annie Soderberg all have won individual events so far this season, too.
Though a lot of the team's talent lies in its underclassmen, senior captain Morgan Miller said the swimmers and divers have bonded well and the team as a whole has talent in each class. Even better, Miller said the team's elders like working with their youngest teammates.
"They're very good about listening to the captains and seniors and really letting us take the lead," Miller said, "but we're completely supportive of having a fast, young team."
Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, who teamed with LaFever, Caldwell and sister Sydney to set a season-best time of 1:54.11 in the 200 medley relay at the Firebirds' last home meet, said Free State doesn't have to rely on just a few swimmers.
"Everybody has their strong points," Lucy said. "It's really made for good meets."
The team's depth shows up most obviously, she added, in relays. At last week's home meet, the Firebirds won the 200 medley, 200 free relay (with Lucy, Alexa Malik, LaFever and Campbell) and the 400 free relay (with Sydney, Campbell, Eliza Anderson and Caldwell). Lucy said opening a meet with a high score in the medley relay helps set the tone.
McDonald knows there is more to the team's consistency than first-place medals and big relay points. Particularly at larger meets, the coach pointed out, a third- or fifth-place finish can be just as valuable. It's that productive depth, Caldwell said, that will serve FSHS well.
"I think we have a really good chance of doing better at state than we did last year," she said of the Firebirds' sixth-place finish in 2012.
In order to contend for a Sunflower League or state title, McDonald said FSHS will need to tweak its lineup somewhat and find the right combination of swimmers to use in certain events. That would allow them to score even more points.
"There are other top teams out there that have the depth and the talent that'll be a challenge for us," the coach said. "It's gonna be a really tough strategy to put together."
But McDonald said the swimmers and divers are motivated to make it happen and keep improving.
"You haven't seen what they're capable of yet," she added.
The Firebirds will play host to some of their primary competition, three-time defending state champion SM East, at a 3:30 p.m. dual today.
Some of the names on the roster might be different, and their team ranking isn't as high, but Lawrence High's wrestlers enter today's Class 6A regional at Free State — 9 a.m. start — undaunted.
The Lions, now No. 10 after a pre-season No. 4 ranking, have just two wrestlers ranked among the state's top six in their weight classes. Still, coach Pat Naughton said 182-pound senior Andrew Denning and 170-pound freshman Alan Clothier aren't the only LHS wrestlers planning to finish in the top four today and move on to next weekend's state tournament, in Wichita.
"We want to try and qualify everybody," Naughton said. "Our goal hasn't changed from the beginning of the season. Our goal is to win the whole thing. We're gonna need some help doing that, but it's definitely within our grasps, as long as everybody comes in with the right plan in mind, stays focused and everybody does their job."
Lawrence's wrestlers will have to contend with opponents from No. 9 Shawnee Mission East, Free State, Kansas City, Kan.-Wyandotte, Olathe Northwest, Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission Northwest and Shawnee Mission West at the regional.
For the most part, the same Lions who wrestled at the Sunflower League Championships last Saturday, will be in action today: Xavier Kenney (106), Jhon Jacob (113), Tim Thongone (120), Garrett Girard (126), Cy Burghart (132), Caden Lynch (138), Ryan Bellinger (152), Jeff Wescoat (160), Clothier and Alex Jones (285). Additions from last week are Will Dalager (145), Denning, Stevin Hays (195) and Malik Davis (220).
Competing for Free State are: Quailan Fowler (106), Sid Miller (113), James Wensel (126), Maurice Jacobs (132), Colton Steele (145), Ben Soukup (152), Sam Skwarlo (160), Nick Vidoli (170) and Sterling Ozark (285).
For those who can't make it over to Free State High to watch the regional in person, keep up with it via trackwrestling.com.
Every once in a while — if you're lucky — you'll go to a basketball game and see something you'll never forget.
Now, maybe you're thinking the likeliness of that happening at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School on a Tuesday night is about a billion to one. That's where you'd be wrong.
Lawrence High's boys basketball team played an entertaining, back-and-forth game with the Cougars Tuesday — nothing extraordinary, mostly, but certainly enjoyable.
Had SMNW won by a few baskets or Lawrence eked out a win by a possession or two, even I would've filed the game away with the hundreds of others I've covered and forgotten a lot of the details sooner, rather than later.
But with 4.9 seconds left and trailing by two, LHS executed a sideline in-bound play to perfection. Freshman point guard Justin Roberts found senior shooting guard Jake Mosiman open in the right corner and Mosiman confidently rose up to drain a game-winning three that allowed the Lions to leave SMNW with a 55-54 road win.
The gym was far from packed, so a lot of Chesty Lions fans missed out on an instant classic. Fortunately for those not in attendance, Isaac Honer at All Star Video Sports had his camera ready to capture the moment. Here's the YouTube clip of Mosiman's winning shot:
Now even those who didn't spend their Tuesday night in the SMNW bleachers can say they remember Mosiman's clutch delivery.
The hype has been suppressed for long enough.
It's time to talk about just how good the football teams are this season at Lawrence High and Free State High. Years from now, city sports fans will reminisce about 2012 and the amazing players that represented Lawrence.
If you've been lucky enough to see both the Lions (6-1) and Firebirds (6-1) play this season, you probably already know this, so you can just jump ahead farther down in the blog:
• Lawrence and Free State are two of the best teams in not only the Sunflower League, but also the state
• The 2012 city showdown — regular-season finale, Oct. 26 at LHS — is going to be an absolute classic battle
We're now just 13 days away from the 2012 version of the rivalry game, and because each team has another district game to play before they meet, we know nobody from either side is going to talk about the game before it's the next one on the schedule.
This is the most FSHS lineman Cody Stanclift was willing to divulge a few days before the Firebirds' victory over Wyandotte: "If we win both games, and I'm sure they'll win both games, it'll be a big game to finish the regular season on."
That doesn't mean those of us outside of the programs can't start pondering what will be on display. Here are some key aspects of the game to consider:
• Can Free State's defense find a way to shut down LHS senior quarterback Brad Strauss and receivers Erick Mayo, Drake Hofer, Will Thompson and Josh Seybert? The only thing that has seemed to affect Strauss so far has been rain, which made the football difficult to grip on Friday vs. Leavenworth. And guess what. Strauss still completed 17 of 25 passes for 179 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. But Free State's secondary, with Kyle McFarland, Demarko Bobo and Joe Dineen, will be the best Strauss and the Lions have faced this season.
• On that note, how does Lawrence's offensive line handle the pressure Free State's linemen and backers are capable of unloading? The Firebirds defense has reached another level the last few weeks and that has a lot to do with the work up front by linemen Stanclift, Riley Buller and Fred Wyatt, as well as linebackers Corban Schmidt, Keith Loneker and Blake Winslow. They've been all over opposing QBs and surely want to do the same against LHS.
• Who will make a game-changing play on special teams? On kickoffs and punt returns, Hofer, Mayo and Strauss are big weapons, but nobody in the league might be better than Free State's Tye Hughes, who has two TD punt returns. And one of the best special teams plays I've seen all year came from Free State's Zach Bickling and Dineen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIKOR5...
• How does the LHS defense, which has surrendered a lot of yards on the ground at times, contain Free State's rushing options? McFarland can run the ball from the quarterback position or hand it off to TJ Cobbs or Bobo. Every once in a while, Dineen lines up at RB, too. The Lions will need their more than capable linemen Kharon Brown, Cole Cummins and Seybert, as well as linebackers Drew Green, Jordan Brown, Kieran Severa and company to bottle up the FSHS rushers.
What else does everybody think about the game? What would you like to discuss in future blogs leading up to the city showdown?
Also, if you have youtube clips of highlights for either team, email them to me at email@example.com or post links in the comments section and I'll put them all together in a blog before it's game time.
To hold you over until Friday night, when high school football season finally begins, here's a look at who will be seeing the most playing time for Lawrence High and Free State this week.
FREE STATE HIGH
With Friday night’s season opener at Olathe Northwest getting closer by the minute, Free State High football coach Bob Lisher is starting to feel better about his team’s depth chart.
Though Lisher expects some fluctuation to come as the Firebirds search for the right combination of players during the first few weeks, the FSHS staff has to be confident in its defense, which returns eight players who either started last season or played half the snaps in a game.
On the defensive line, Free State will start senior Cody Stanclift and junior Fred Wyatt as ends and senior Riley Buller at nose tackle.
The Firebirds have a long list of starting linebackers: juniors Stan Skwarlo, Kieth Loneker and Blake WInslow, and seniors Corban Schmidt and Tye Hughes.
Free State boasts a strong secondary, with seniors Kyle McFarland, first-team All-Sunflower League in 2011, and Demarko Bobo manning the corners and junior Joe Dineen at free safety.
Offensively, starting center junior Reid Buckingham will have guard Buller and tackle Wyatt to his left, with guard Stanclift and senior tackle Derick Davis to his right.
Behind Free State’s O-line, McFarland returns at quarterback and senior TJ Cobbs leads a committee of running backs.
Junior tight end Zach Bickling and senior receivers Chris Heller, Sam Hearnen, and Hughes enter the season as the team’s top passing targets.
Defensive backups for the Firebirds are junior ends Zack Bickling and Tyler Sampson, nose tackle Stanclift, linebackers Cobbs, sophomore Carson Bowen, junior Spencer MacDonald, seniors Miles Stevens and Demarko Bobo, senior cornerback Chris Heller and sophomore free safety Joel Spain.
Serving as second string on offense are linemen Sampson, MacDonald, sophomore Scott Frantz, quarterback Dineen, running backs Bobo and Skwarlo, junior tight end Saxon Mingus and receivers Loneker, Hearnen and Spain.
Starters and backups on special teams are less clear, but Bobo and McFarland are punters, Winslow, sophomore Tripp Wright and senior Antonio Schoneich can kick, and Hughes, Dineen and Bobo will return punts and kickoffs.
LT — Fred Wyatt, Scott Frantz
LG — Riley Buller, Tyler Sampson
C — Reid Buckingham, Spencer MacDonald
RG — Cody Stanclift, Tyler Sampson
RT — Derick Davis, Cody Stanclift
QB — Kyle McFarland, Joe Dineen
RB — TJ Cobbs, Demarko Bobo, Stan Skwarlo
TE — Zach Bickling, Saxon Mingus
WR — Tye Hughes, Kieth Loneker
WR — Chris Heller, Sam Hearnen
WR — Sam Hearnen, Joel Spain
DE — Cody Stanclift, Zack Bickling
NT — Riley Buller, Cody Stanclift
DE — Fred Wyatt, Tyler Sampson
OLB — Stan Skwarlo, Carson Bowen
LB — Kieth Loneker, TJ Cobbs
MLB — Corban Schmidt, Spencer MacDonald
LB — Blake Winslow, Miles Stevens
OLB — Tye Hughes, Demarko Bobo
CB — Kyle McFarland, Chris Heller
CB — Demarko Bobo, Chris Heller
FS — Joe Dineen, Joel Spain
P — Demarko Bobo, Kyle McFarland
K — Blake Winslow, Tripp Wright, Antonio Schoneich
PR/KR — Tye Hughes, Joe Dineen, Demarko Bobo
Playing so many sophomores two years ago is about to pay off for coach Dirk Wedd’s Lawrence High football team.
The Lions’ biggest strength on their depth chart entering Friday’s season opener against Shawnee Mission West is a core group of seniors with two seasons worth of varsity experience.
Leading that bunch is senior quarterback Brad Strauss, who threw for 1,555 yards and rushed for 754 more to gain All-Sunflower League first-team status in 2011. Protecting Strauss as starting linemen will be three seniors — left guard Jacob Warren, right guard Kharon Brown and right tackle Chris Gillespie— and juniors left tackle Alex Jones and center Kyle Wittman.
In the backfield, LHS has senior running back Tyrone Jenkins. Out wide, seniors Erick Mayo, Drake Hofer, Will Thompson and Josh Seybert lead the receiving corps.
Lawrence’s starting defensive line will be comprised of senior nose guard Cole Cummins, senior tackle Josh Seybert and Brown, an all-league first-teamer as a junior.
At linebacker, LHS will have seniors Jordan Brown and Asaph Jewsome and juniors Drew Green and Kieran Severa at its disposal.
In the secondary, free safety Strauss picked up first-team all-league defensive honors a year ago, and will be helped by corners Mayo and Thompson, as well as junior strong safety Tucker Sutter.
Members of the LHS secondary also will play a significant role on special teams, with Strauss punting and Severa kicking. Mayo and Strauss will return punts and Hofer will join Mayo for kickoff return duties.
Wedd wasn’t ready to declare backups at every position, but he shared the names of players most likely to see the field as second-stringers.
On offense, seniors Nick Long and Art Hall, and junior Matt Weiss can play multiple positions on the line. Jordan Brown will back up Jenkins at running back, while Green and Severa can sub in as receivers.
Defensively, Gillespie and Weiss lead the line’s reserves, while senior Hunter Haralson and juniors Ryan Bellinger and Isaiah Boldridge will fill in at linebacker. In the secondary, Hofer can come in at free safety and junior Brandon Maxey and sophomore Zakary McAlister will provide depth at the corners.
LT — Alex Jones, Nick Long
LG — Jacob Warren, Matt Weiss
C — Kyle Wittman, Art Hall
RG — Kharon Brown
RT — Chris Gillespie
QB — Brad Strauss
RB — Tyrone Jenkins, Jordan Brown
WR — Erick Mayo, Isaiah Boldridge
WR — Drake Hofer
WR — Will Thompson, Drew Green
WR — Josh Seybert, Kieran Severa
NG — Cole Cummins, Matt Weiss
DT — Kharon Brown, Chris Gillespie
DT — Josh Seybert
LB — Jordan Brown, Hunter Harrelson
LB — Drew Green
LB — Asaph Jewsome, Ryan Bellinger
LB — Kieran Severa, Isaiah Boldridge
CB — Erick Mayo, Brandon Maxey
CB — Will Thompson, Zakary McAlister
SS — Tucker Sutter
FS — Brad Strauss, Drake Hofer
P — Brad Strauss
K — Kieran Severa
KR — Erick Mayo, Drake Hofer
PR — Erick Mayo, Brad Strauss
Wednesday marked a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable season for Seabury Academy's boys basketball team.
Though the Seahawks achieved one major season-long goal by going to the Class 1A-Division I state tournament, the goal of winning a state title was snatched away from them by Ashland in a 51-50 classic.
Second-year Seabury coach Ashley Battles said it was difficult for the season to end in such fashion.
"This was our first go at state. It was all new to us," Battles said. "It was a lot louder than I anticipated."
Most of that noise came from a raucous Ashland fan base that didn't want to see the Blue Jays lose for the first time this season.
But Seahawks fans, especially the students, made some noise, too, constructing a great environment that was worthy of such an entertaining game.
Though Seabury led 30-23 at halftime, AHS took its game to the next level in the second half and used a 16-0 run to gain control. In the meantime, Seabury sophomore Khadre Lane said, the Seahawks had issues on offense.
"We just didn't really execute as the game kept going," Lane said.
Battles, like the players, wished the team would've played to its potential.
"We played such good team basketball leading up to it (state tournament), then we got here and we tried to do it all by ourselves," the coach said. "You just can't win a big basketball game against a good team like that."
It wasn't their best outing of the season, but there were still some solid performances for the Seahawks. Here are the "Prep Appraisals" from the state-tournament setback.
1. Georgi Funtarov, sr. — 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, 6 rebounds
The 6-foot-7 big man displayed his inside-outside game in a tough loss. Funtarov, after a slow start shooting-wise, got going from the perimeter and finished by hitting 4-for-8 from three-point land. Ashland picked up its defense on Funtarov in the second half — if the Blue Jays hadn't done so, this game would've had a different outcome.
2. Khadre Lane, so. — 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting, 8 rebounds
The gifted 6-foot-4 guard got to show off his athleticism a couple times in Seabury's season finale. There were barely any transition opportunities for the Seahawks but when they came up it was Lane exploding to the rim. He also gave his team some momentum it really needed in the closing seconds of the first quarter. Lane tracked down a long offensive rebound along the left sideline, more than 30 feet from the basket. With the clock approaching zero, he sent a high-arching shot up and through the net for a three to get his team within two points of AHS — a head's up, highlight-reel play.
3. Thomas Diaz, sr. — 3 points on 1-for-7 shooting, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
The 6-foot-5 wing was feeling ill earlier in the week, but Battles said he was back to 100 percent on Thursday. Diaz couldn't get his shot to fall against AHS but he still made a big impact on offense by driving and passing. It showed a lot about his approach that he didn't let his low point-total impact other parts of his game.
4. Jesse May, sr. — 9 points on 4-for-6 shooting, 2 rebounds, 1assist
May played nearly the entire game for Seabury, sitting only briefly in the third quarter after he took a hit under the basket and got the wind knocked out of him. He scored back-to-back Seahawks baskets in the fourth quarter to halt a huge Ashland run.
5. Garrett Gillett, sr. — 5 points on 1-for-4 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Not a lot of scoring, but great activity out of the senior point guard. He chased down some long offensive rebounds, found his way to the foul line a few times and played his complimentary role well.
6. Marcus Allen, so. — Really only got on the floor for about a minute, but having some kind of state experience should prove helpful for him in the future.
— Be sure to follow @LJWpreps on Twitter, and check out our timeline for a score-by-score recap of Seabury's game against Ashland.
Seabury Academy's boys basketball team might boast a killer scoring trio and complimentary role players that love their jobs, but the Seahawks will have their hands full today in the first round of the Class 1A-Division I state tournament in Emporia.
With the lowest winning percentage of the eight teams vying for a 2012 state title, Seabury (13-10) drew the No. 8 seed and a match-up with No. 1 seed Ashland (23-0) at 3 p.m. today.
Seahawks coach Ashley Battles said Ashland, ranked No. 1 in 1A-DI by the KBCA, is, "without a doubt," the tournament favorite.
"I'm glad we play them first, off the bat," Battles said. "We've got plenty of time to prepare for them, plenty of time to fine-tune what we do on offense and defense."
When you see "23-0" next to a team on the bracket, Seabury senior Georgi Funtarov said, that commands automatic respect.
"It says you're a good team," Funtarov said of the Blue Jays' undefeated mark. "You can't be a bad team and have a 23-0 record."
Still, sophomore Seabury guard Khadre Lane indicated he and his teammates won't be intimidated because they're facing a the top team in the field.
"They're undefeated, yeah, but we're gonna try to give them their first loss," Lane said.
The Seahawks are hoping to embrace their status as the least heralded team at Emporia — No. 2 seed Lakeside Downs (22-1), No. 3 seed Udall (20-3), No. 4 seed Montezuma South Gray (19-4) and No. 5 seed Hoxie (18-4) all come in with better records and spots in the KBCA top 10, which doesn't include Seabury.
Funtarov said it could be an advantage for the Seahawks to show up at state with low expectations from outsiders.
"The whole season we've been underdogs," Funtarov said. "Nobody really knows who we are. They just know that we don't have a good record and when we show up people see that we actually can play."
And as far as those rankings go, Lane said Seabury will let its play do the talking.
"I think at the beginning of the season it kind of got to us a little bit," he said of not being ranked, "but it kind of motivated us to work harder. Now we don't really worry about it."
The Seahawks' attention, obviously, needs to be zeroed in on Ashland. Battles said the Blue Jays are a lot like Seabury, because they have a number of good players.
"They're a team of very strong athletes, with one exceptional player that would probably start on any team in the state, regardless of classification," Battles said, referring to Ashland senior swingman Jay Luerman. "The rest of their players are extremely solid basketball players who do everything."
Ashland has four players averaging seven or more points per game and the 6-foot-2 Luerman leads the way:
• No. 1, Jay Luerman, sr. — 23.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.2 spg, 2.3 apg, 68% FGs, 50% 3-pters
• No. 5, Austin Stebens, sr. — 9.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, 48% FGs, 39% 3-pters
• No. 4, Chance Stebens, sr. — 8.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 42% FGs
• No. 3, Grant Meininger, so. — 7.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 53% FGs
— Keep up with the game's progress today by following @LJWpreps on Twitter.
The Free State High girls aren't your typical basketball team.
So it probably shouldn't have been surprising Friday night when their season-ending, 60-48 loss to Olathe South in a Class 6A sub-state championship game at Leavenworth High was followed with an atypical response from the Firebirds.
(The result, by the way, did surprise me. This game felt like it was going to come down to the wire.)
Here's some of what makes them abnormal: FSHS plays a seven-guard rotation. The Firebirds' tallest player is their best perimeter player. Their lead guards are nasty in their ability but flash smiles throughout every game.
With the tendency to be different, it should've been obvious that they would handle the end of their season with grace. There was no sobbing or exasperation following the final buzzer. The FIrebirds shook hands with the Falcons and some hugged the girls who had just kept them from a state-tournament berth.
Coach Bryan Duncan didn't even have to remind the team to stay on the court and applaud as O-South collected its regional championship plaque.
Their response to a disappointing loss, Duncan explained, came from a feeling that they had given the Falcons their best shot on this particular night.
"It wasn't a 'Oh, poor us thing,'" Duncan said.
The fourth quarter was the difference in the title game, and Kennedy Kirkpatrick gave credit where credit was due.
"They definitely played a great game and they went out there and beat us," she said of O-South.
With that, here are the final "Prep Appraisals" for what was a successful FSHS season.
1. Kennedy Kirkpatrick, jr.— The go-to guard made Free State's offense work. When she was scoring, driving and passing, there wasn't much O-South could do to stop the Firebirds. It wasn't until late in the game that the Falcons finally corralled Kirkpatrick somewhat and the FSHS offense stalled. Kirkpatrick scored 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting and passed out four assists.
2. Scout Wiebe, so.— Playing, appropriately, with a black eye, Wiebe again showed off her toughness, mixing it up under the glass for eight rebounds and diving out of bounds for a loose ball. She scored nine points and proved she will be a big part of this program's success next season.
3. Lynn Robinson, sr.— Robinson spent her night guarding O-South's talented backcourt and was a big part of Megan Balcom hitting just five of her 13 attempts. Robinson scored her two baskets along the baseline, first with a sweet finger roll, then with a floater. She also had two assists.
4. Jackie Garcia, sr. — Scored Free State's first bucket of what was an exciting game until the final minutes. Garcia scored four points (2-for-4 shooting) but also contributed with three steals, three rebounds and an assist.
5. Chelsea Casady, jr.— She got into a little foul trouble early on, but still scored eight points after a scoreless first quarter and set up her teammates with a pair of assists.
6. A'Liyah Rogers, jr.— Essentially the Firebirds' sixth starter with Duncan's tight postseason rotation, Rogers scored a couple baskets and had two assists while working hard on the other end of the floor to slow down O-South's dribble-drives.
7. Ariana Frantz, jr.— She didn't get into the game until the fourth quarter, but showed a great never-quit approach by stealing the ball late, with the game already decided, and taking it in for a layup.
8. Courtney Parker, jr.— Came in momentarily in the first quarter with Casady in foul trouble. Gave Free State just what it needed: A sub willing to body up inside while filling in.
Free State season record: 16-6
— Be sure to follow @LJWpreps on Twitter.
A long, frustrating season came to a close for Free State High's boys basketball team Thursday night with a 65-47 loss at Leavenworth.
Much like other parts of the 2011-12 campaign, the sub-state defeat had its ups and downs.
Said senior guard Brett Frantz: "In the first half we did really good, and in the second half we kind of broke down. Toward the end, we could feel it slipping away, slipping away."
Here are the "Prep Appraisals" for the final game of the FSHS season.
1. Gabe Patterson, sr. — Came out playing inspired on the glass, collecting each of the first four available defensive rebounds in the game. The 6-foot-3 forward scored 12 of his 18 points (a team-high) in the second half and finished with eight boards (also a team-high).
2. Tyler Self, sr. — Free State coach Chuck Law told the 6-foot senior that Thursday was his best game as a Firebird. It's hard to argue with that. Self found a groove from the top of the key, and cashed in three from deep after getting himself going in the first quarter with a baseline jumper. Self helped feed Patterson inside, with mostly spot-on entry passes, and finished with three assists.
3. Brett Frantz, sr. — A versatile scorer for FSHS, Frantz closed a solid senior season with nine points, getting them in a variety of ways. He hit a short jumper in the lane off a busted play, converted a tough reverse layup, knocked down a mid-range jump shot and connected on one of his five three-point tries.
4. Shawn Knighton, sr. — Free State's half-court offense was at its best in the first half with Knighton driving and dishing. Four of his team-high five assists came in the Firebirds' most productive quarters, the first and second. He also had three rebounds.
5. Cameron Dabney, sr. — The slashing guard knocked down a couple of jumpers in the first two quarters but couldn't get into the flow of the offense in the second half. Dabney finished with four points and four rebounds.
6. Cole Moreano, so. — He only hoisted one three-point try, and though that shot misfired, Moreano contributed mightily in other ways off the bench. The sophomore collected four rebounds, passed out two assists and had a steal on a night Law deferred primarily to his senior starters.
7. Blake Winslow, so. — Had an assist in the first quarter and swiped three steals in the third. Though Winslow hurt his right ankle at the end of the third quarter, he was able to return in the fourth.
8. Reshawn Caro, so. — Scored on a lay-up late and had a rebound.
9. Kyle McFarland, jr. — Didn't attempt a shot in limited minutes and had one rebound.
Free State season record: 7-14.
— Be sure to follow @LJWpreps on Twitter.
"Focus" was Free State High girls basketball coach Bryan Duncan's buzz word Wednesday night, when the Firebirds opened the postseason with a 57-42 beating of Olathe North.
It was an appropriate choice, too, as Duncan's team controlled the game pretty much from start to finish.
FSHS went 18-for-46 from the floor (39 percent) but really stymied O-North on defense, holding the Eagles to 17-for-54 shooting (31 percent). The home team's domination shows even more when you look at O-North's shooting prior to the fourth quarter, when the game was out of hand. In the first 24 minutes, the Eagles made just 26 percent of their shots and had only 25 points.
The FIrebirds' lead grew to as many as 20 points in the second half and that really wouldn't have been possible without a stellar collective effort from their top six rotation players. Here's how the rankings from the sub-state win shake out in "Prep Appraisals."
1. Kennedy Kirkpatrick, jr. — Duncan called Kirkpatrick as focused "as we've seen her all season." Hard to argue with that assessment. The Firebirds' leading scorer was on point, going 8-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 from downtown. Everything that makes Kirkpatrick such a pain in the backsides of FSHS opponents was on display: a step-back jumper, pretty three-pointers and acrobatic drives. Quite a night. And she had four steals and three boards.
2. Lynn Robinson, sr. — Not surprisingly, when O-North scored a couple of early buckets to get out to a four-point lead in the first quarter, it was Robinson who helped get her team on track before the Eagles had an opportunity to feel comfortable. She scored on a baseline cut to the hoop, then drilled a three-pointer that put Free State ahead for good. Robinson went 4-for-4 at the foul line and her defense made it difficult for O-North to produce on the perimeter.
3. Scout Wiebe, so. — The youngest member of Free State's rotation is really proving to be a valuable commodity for the Firebirds. Wiebe followed her 12-point/four-rebound performance in the City Showdown with seven points and a team-high nine boards in her postseason debut. She might be the toughest player on the team, and that's saying a lot with this group. Wiebe got nailed with an elbow below her left eye in the third quarter and had to be taken to the trainer's room. She returned in the fourth to a huge ovation from the Firebirds fans.
4. A'Liyah Rogers, jr. — There isn't a guard around who is happy to see Rogers come off the bench. She is a relentless defender on the perimeter and her speed and strength, combined with her footwork, make harassment her specialty. But Rogers came up with some big buckets in this win, too. The junior knocked down an open three-pointer, scored on a beautiful floater along the right baseline and picked up an easy transition layup. Plus, Rogers passed out two assists and controlled three rebounds.
5. Chelsea Casady, jr. — She pretty much never takes a bad shot, which makes a 1-for-7 night so out of the ordinary for Casady. An inside-outside threat, Casady got her typical quality looks but the ball just wasn't going in. No big deal. She still hit seven of eight free throws, passed out a couple assists and helped defend O-North's 6-foot-3 post, Jessica Sheble.
6. Jackie Garcia, sr. — A capable offensive threat in Free State's attack, Garcia took a passive role in this easy win. She is never a shoot-first player, but the senior went out of her way to keep the ball moving against O-North. She only took three shots — all of them coming in the first two quarters — and her passing directly led to three-pointers for Robinson and Kirkpatrick, as well as a fast-break layup for Rogers.
tie-7. Courtney Parker, jr.; Ariana Frantz, jr.; Summer Frantz, jr.; Baha White, sr.; Lily Ross, fr. — Even though each of these back-ups only played a minute or two, they gave FSHS some much needed help on a night the Firebirds were without junior Abbey Casady, who was out of town for a choir event.
Free State record: 16-5
Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday vs. Olathe South, at Leavenworth High
— Be sure to follow @LJWpreps on Twitter.