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

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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

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