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New Year's Resolutions for 4 high school hoops teams
Like it or not — believe it or not — 2010 has arrived.
Although the calendar says January and the weather outside says Antarctica, the gymnasiums at Lawrence High and Free State High figure to be heating up in the coming weeks.
After a two-week winter break, the boys and girls at LHS and FSHS will return to the hardwood this week, with the Firebirds playing Tuesday and the Lions returning to action Friday.
The four varsity basketball teams at both schools entered the break in very different positions. The Free State girls stood in the best shape at 4-1. Free State’s boys followed closely at 3-2. Both of those teams also benefited from the extra joy that comes with knocking off their rival (The Firebirds swept LHS on Dec. 19) in the final game before the break.
The LHS teams, meanwhile, have stumbled out to a combined start of 1-11, with the girls finishing 2009 at 1-5 and the boys still searching for that first victory at 0-6.
Despite the records, all four teams have shown great signs so far this season. With those in mind, here’s a list of New Year’s Resolutions that would help all four teams turn the corner in their runs at state.
Free State girls (4-1)
Let’s start with Bryan Duncan’s bunch. For this group, let’s see if they can’t find some hunger. It’s rare for a team in Lawrence — guys or girls — to start two future-Division I players. And in seniors Chantay Caron (K-State) and Ashli Hill (undecided), that’s exactly what Duncan has. In addition, he’s got another senior (Wren Wiebe) with three years of starting experience and some guards who play the game year-round. This team has its share of weaknesses and is by no means a lock for the state tournament. But it should have more size, talent and experience than just about every team it plays from here until the state tournament. For this team to sit back and play passive basketball would be wasting a golden opportunity. It’s time for this group of seniors to get fired up, get hungry and take advantage of what could go down as the best batch of talent on a Free State High team in history.
Free State boys (3-2)
As for the Free State boys, I’d like to see the Firebirds vow to have more fun in 2010. The 2008-09 season was rough on this bunch. And it dealt a serious blow to their confidence. But that season’s long gone by now and this year’s group is off to a great start. In addition to a second-place finish at the Bonner Springs tournament, the Firebirds already have notched a victory against crosstown rival LHS, which broke a three-game losing skid to the Lions. This group is deep, talented and finally maturing. I finally saw some smiles from some of them after that LHS victory. Here’s hoping we see more the rest of the way.
Lawrence High girls (1-5)
For the LHS girls, I request patience. Patience during the games, patience with the big picture and patience with each other. This team has a ton of talent, is led by a strong and experienced senior class and will be in a position to make a run at state by the end of the season. Consider this.... In their four-point loss to Free State three weeks ago, LHS stayed close and nearly won despite not getting a single point from senior starters Jasmyn Turner and Cassie Potter. Those two are too good to remain scoreless very often, but the fact that their team nearly won with them struggling was a great sign for the Lions. Patience will go a long way for first-year coach Nick Wood and his solid squad.
Lawrence High boys (0-6)
And for the LHS boys, who have played seven players with little or no varsity experience through the first six games of the season, here’s hoping they’ll find some consistency. This team has talent. No doubt about it. But they have yet to harness that talent for a full four quarters. Sophomore starters Anthony Buffalomeat and K.J. Pritchard, though young, should be the cornerstone of the team. That would allow silky-smooth senior Marcus Ray (the only player armed with legit experience) to play more of a supporting role, in which he would flourish and likely be more comfortable. The only way to become consistent is by playing. So eventually, this team is going to get there. But by coming to play with passion, pride and confidence every night, these guys can expedite the process.
Happy New Year, everyone. Can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for the local high school sports scene.