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Sub-state Prep Appraisals — Free State High Girls vs. Olathe North
"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
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