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Prep Appraisals — Firebirds Swept at Olathe South

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If the Sunflower League had a television network, Friday night's girls basketball game between Free State and Olathe South would be an instant classic.

Free State nearly made program history, but the Firebirds' winless streak against O-South continued when Megan Balcom hit a three at the buzzer to beat FSHS 52-50.

Coach Bryan Duncan and his team were right there at the finish and it took a spectacular play to beat them.

"I was nervous the whole way," Duncan said of the final minutes. "I felt good because we were playing so well. It's one of those situations where what happens is gonna happen, and their player made a big-time shot."

Here are the "Prep Appraisals" from the thriller.

1. Chelsea Casady, jr. — Chelsea has taken her game to another level this week. Not only did her defense (three steals, getting in post passing lanes, contesting shots) help Free State come oh-so-close to knocking off O-South, she went 7-for-12 from the floor, with an array of post moves, drives and jumpers on the way to an 18-point night. And she pulled in five boards.

2. Kennedy Kirkpatrick, jr. — The only time Kirkpatrick wasn't herself was in the third quarter, and it should come as no surprise that that's when O-South made its run. No knock on Kirkpatrick, though. The shots just weren't falling. In the other three quarters, she went 6-for-12, totaling 16 points. Her free throw with 16 seconds left looked like a game-winner, and would've been, too, if Balcom's three-pointer hadn't fallen.

3. Lynn Robinson, sr. — Another big rebounding effort for Robinson, who finished with five boards. She scored just four points, but her floater in the lane early in the third quarter stopped a 7-0 Falcons run. If you ever wonder about how much Robinson means to this team, you could see it in the fourth quarter when she went to the floor for a steal while taking a knee to the face.

4. Jackie Garcia, sr. — She started the game looking for her own shot with drives to the lane in the opening minutes and that aggressiveness set her up for the rest of the game. While Garcia scored all four of her points in the first, she came up with a few big rebounds and dished three assists against a difficult opponent that kept nearly all the Firebirds under wrap.

5. Abbey Casady, jr. — The Firebirds were glad to have Abbey back in the lineup after missing her on Tuesday. She scored four points and had four rebounds and an assist. With less than a minute to go, she controlled a key defensive rebound in traffic and stayed in bounds while fleeing defenders along the baseline.

6. A'Liyah Rogers, jr. — The back-up guard scored all four of her points in the second quarter as FSHS built a 10-point halftime lead. Rogers knocked down a three-pointer off a pass from Kirkpatrick with 53 seconds left in the second. She also got on the floor for a key rebound in the fourth quarter and had one steal.

7. Scout Wiebe, so. — Four rebounds and a pair of assists for the sophomore sub in a game where every play counted.

Free State girls record: 12-4

Next up: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Shawnee Mission Northwest

Similar rally, same result

After the Free State boys had another fourth-quarter comeback attempt fall short in a 49-44 Friday loss at O-South, the Firebirds were lamenting their lethargic starts to games.

The glass-half-full view is at least Free State performed really well in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

Let's get to the "Prep Appraisals" from the game.

1. Gabe Patterson, sr. — As Free State surged in the fourth quarter, Patterson picked up his game on the glass. The big man went up high with power to nab eight of his 10 boards in the fourth. He also scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth and went diving head-first out of bounds trying to save an errant pass.

2. Brett Frantz, sr. — When Free State couldn't find the basket in the first quarter, Frantz finally got the Firebirds on the scoreboard with a nice move on the baseline. In the second half, his long-range shooting helped push FSHS back in the game, as he nailed three from behind the arc.

3. Cameron Dabney, sr. — After getting off just one shot in the first half, when FSHS struggled in the half-court against O-South's zone, Dabney got rolling in the third quarter with six points and scored four more in the fourth. His pull-up jumper off the dribble was almost automatic.

4. Cole Moreano, so. — The lefty hit a three-pointer in the second quarter for his only points but still contributed mightily in other areas. Not only did he chip in three rebounds, but the soph with the sweet stroke proved he is willing to move the ball on offense, distributing four assists, and worked hard at the top of the Firebirds' 1-3-1 half-court zone.

5. Kyle McFarland, jr. — One of only three bench players to score (seven played), McFarland went 2-for-4, scoring on an alley-oop pass from Moreano and a move along the baseline.

6. Shawn Knighton, sr. — No points for the starting point guard, but dished a couple of fourth-quarter assists during Free State's run. Those weren't his only big plays of the fourth, either. Knighton earned a five-second call on defense with less than six minutes to go.

7. Tyler Self, sr. — Coming off the bench, Self went 0-for-5 on some good looks, but he also grabbed three rebounds and had a steal and an assist.

8. Blake Winslow, so. — Two free throws were what Winslow contributed points-wise, but his hustle on defense can't be overlooked.

9. Reshawn Caro, so. — Caro found Moreano for an open three in the second quarter, when little was going right for the Firebirds.

10. Dimitar Gocevski, sr. — Didn't enter the game until the third quarter and barely played, but contributed with a sweet steal at mid court and an ensuing 1-for-2 effort at the foul line.

11. Keith Loneker, so. — The young sub pulled down a rebound in limited time against a tough Falcons team.

12. Logan Bannister, jr. — Not may minutes for the back-up post on this night.

Free State boys record: 5-11

Next up: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Shawnee Mission Northwest

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