LJWorld.com weblogs The Dividing Line

It's now or never for the Free State High boys basketball team


It’s 9 a.m. on Feb. 17, do you know where your Free State High boys basketball victories are? The general consensus of opinion says one of those pesky, hard-to-corral critters could show up at the Free State High gym tonight when the Firebirds play host to SM North for the final home game of the 2008-09 season. Free State, which opened the season with a victory and has lost 15 straight since, has had tonight’s game circled on its schedule for quite some time. With good reason. As early on as mid-January, the Firebirds quietly began pointing to this one as their next chance for a victory. Sure there were a few along the way that Free State could win. But haven’t so many games during this painstaking stretch been could-win contests? Typically, games worthy of the big red circle on the calendar are reserved for revenge, marquee match-ups or one-of-a-kind showdowns. Tonight’s meeting between 1-15 Free State and 2-14 Shawnee Mission North drew the circle for a different reason — it might be the Firebirds’ best chance at their next victory. Chasing that elusive title all season has worn down this team. They’ve played hard most of the way but have mailed it in on occasion and have struggled to believe — especially lately — that victory could be around the next corner. A win tonight would not erase the pain of the 15-game losing streak. But it would give this incredibly young team something it deserves at a crucial point in the season: hope. In many ways, it’s something they already should have. Consider this: During the Firebirds’ 15-game skid, they’ve lost six games by eight points or less, including taking two of the league’s most talented teams to the wire in a 40-37 loss to SM South and a 52-46 loss to Leavenworth last week. Their toughest losses came at the most critical times. A 74-64 overtime defeat to Lawrence High on Dec. 20 sent the Firebirds into winter break on a four-game losing streak. What’s worse, Free State was less than 30 seconds away from winning that one, controling the pace most of the way and executing a near-perfect gameplan. A win there puts the Firebirds at 2-3 entering the break and affords them the luxury of feeling good about beating their rival for nearly four weeks. It could have changed the entire season. Out of the break, the Firebirds had back-to-back close calls. The first came at Blue Valley West, a game the Firebirds led by eight late in the third only to lose, 53-45. The second came three nights later when Free State shot 4-of-19 from the free throw line in a 49-46 loss at Olathe North. Win either of those games, and perhaps the rest of the season goes a little smoother. Then again, perhaps not. This team is young, has shown its inexperience at times, has struggled to find a leader and has been drubbed as often as it has been in close ballgames. But not for lack of effort. If the basketball gods have any compassion, the Firebirds will win tonight. Not because it’s the final home game for six Free State seniors, but because that second victory is long overdue.


Getalife2006 9 years, 1 month ago

Might their season have anything to do with the coaching?? The talent is there, but when you're confidence is ripped on a daily basis...well, that might just explain the close games...

Marty_McFly 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey getalife2006,

Is Douglas Compton the talent that you're talking about? I just don't see it with him or other members of the team this year.

I don't mean to bash him or anyone else on the team because they all seem to hustle at the games I've attended anyway.


Matt Tait 9 years, 1 month ago

Size, skills, experience, leadership, coaching....

When a team loses 15 straight, every aspect of the game has to come into the equation.

But I know this much.... Those kids and Coach Law have worked their butts off this season to try to find something that works. Their struggles have not been for a lack of effort or determination.

They deserve a TON of credit for being able to fight so hard night in and night out after going through such a tough season.

Lesser competitors would've given up long ago.

And don't forget --- struggles or not --- most of this roster is back next season and this team will be better for what it has gone through this year.

J_B_H 9 years, 1 month ago

Coach Law gets the most out of what he has to work with and the young men on this team should be proud of their effort. Coaching high school sports is an unbelievably difficult job because you have to play the hand you are dealt and Coach Law was not dealt Aces this year. Judge a high school team and coach on how hard his teams compete, ask any coach in the Sunflower League and they will tell you that LFS is never an easy out. How soon some people forget just how much his team overachieved when they finished 3rd in the state.

A_J_Hawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Candide (Anonymous) says…

blah blah blah pointless basketball game.

The same could be said about your comment Candide.

Getalife2006 9 years, 1 month ago

I will not comment on any specific player! I agree that those young men have worked hard and should be proud of their efforts. Coach Law needs to evaluate how he treats his players, that's all I meant. If the young men on that team were treated with more respect (received encouragement instead of being degraded) those close losses may have ended in close victories.

I do believe their loosing season starts and ends with the coaching and will continue to. I know all of those young men and have watched them grow up. There is talent there! Law has talented height on the JV team that is not being utilized on the varsity team. Is everyone else lost on this?

I guarantee that if FSHS had a coaching staff that respected and encouraged their players, their season would be much more successful!

Freestater456 9 years, 1 month ago

And you know how they are being treated because...... You have had a personal encounter with Mr. Law? I highly doubt that because if you have you would not be saying anything about his character or the way he treats the basketball players. And even so getting a pat on the back for losing....? Yeah that is the way to teach kids. : / Hey you failed don't worry you tried your hardest. Well as a high school athlete that is the most obnoxious comment someone could say to me after i did poorly. We know when we screw up and we don't need someone to try and make the situation something that its not.

Getalife2006 9 years, 1 month ago

As a matter of fact, I have, and I know others who have as well. I've heard it myself. If you're truly a basketball player, then what are you doing online at 3:18 in the afternoon? Please!!! Love him or hate him, Law and his staff are the reason that FSHS has problems. When you look back at what they could have hired...wow what a loss!

A_J_Hawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Who could have they hired getalife2006?

I must be out of the loop because I've never heard of anyone better than the 2008-2009 Master Teacher of the Year, Coach Chuck Law.

Golf4Life 9 years, 1 month ago

Two of my best friends are on this basketball team and you all think its coaching. No, sorry it's not. The talent is there it's just lack of confidence. The game that hurt them the most was not the lhs game, but the second game of the year against Shawnee Heights. If i recall, the T-Birds went on a 29-0 run in the forth quarter. And Marty, I guarantee Douglas Compton knows more about basketball on that team than anyone. He maybe lacking size but his leadership is why he is a team captain.

Freestater456 9 years, 1 month ago

getalife what was i doing on a 3:18? First of all it says 2:37. Secondly what i do with my free time outside of school (no sixth hour genius) is my business not yours but thanks for checking. Mr. Law is not the problem so stay out of it and do not talk about that which you do not know. Thanks so much.

Golf4Life 9 years, 1 month ago

Getalife2006, are you Sebastian Bonner's father? Haha seriously. I really hope that he is not the talent and height you are talking about? If you ask me a 6'6 player that scores alot but get's out-rebounded by players a foot shorter than him is nothing special. Hit the weights Sebasitian.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 1 month ago

To those bashing the coach and claiming the talent is there: Let me preface this by saying I do not know much about the Free State basketball team this year but I like to think I know a little bit about basketball. I don't care how bad you think your coach is, you don't have plenty of "talent" and go 1-15...period. Even a team with no coach, playing pick-up style ball will win a few off talent,athleticism, and luck. That record denotes that Free State just did not have the horses to compete this year, but it sounds like they are a young team and may be more competitive next year, giving everyone a better critique of Coach Law.

Carolyn Masinton 9 years, 1 month ago


Never assume anything. I certainly won't ask you not to express your opinion of my son (since I don't care what you think), but I will correct you on one point.

For the record, Sebastian Bonner's father is named Sebastian Bonner. My name is Carolyn Masinton, and I'm Sebastian Bonner's mother. When and if Sebastian or I decide to post on the LJWorld articles or blogs, we use our own names, and not anonymous names. When and if Sebastian and I choose to discuss the state of the Free State basketball program, it most certainly won't be here on this website.

Whoever Getalife2006 is, he/she does not represent the Bonner family. We have no desire to consult with the readership of this blog on the state of the Free State Basketball Program. In fact, we wouldn't have even been aware of this article and thread if someone hadn't called to let us know that both my husband and son had been mentioned.

Regards, Carolyn Masinton

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