Posts tagged with Free State

Summer football observations and video

There's still a few months before the start of football seasons for Lawrence High and Free State, but both schools have have been going full-speed ahead at team camps over the past week.

The two schools spent two days at the Kansas University team camp last week, along with about 15 other teams around the area. On Thursday and Tuesday, they participated in Baker University's padded team camp, which they hosted on their own fields. Along with the two city schools, Shawnee Mission East, SM South, St. Thomas Aquinas and Leavenworth were at the camp on Tuesday. Here's some of the things that caught my eye at Tuesday's camp, starting with the Firebirds:

Senior quarterback Bryce Torneden looks sharp with a year of experience. In the video below, you can see his strong cut on the 2nd play and he made some good decisions on his throws. He tossed for 1,064 yards last year and ran for another 1,277, combining for 25 touchdowns. He looks further along than he did during the summer last year. His only negative moment was when he had to sit briefly with a quad injury when he made a play on defense, flying in for a stop from safety.

"It's definitely helped having a season under (me)," Torneden said. "We have a lot of returners except for that line. We just have to build them up."

"It's mostly coaching," Torneden added of the line. "Just getting more experience. We've got Tanner (Liba) coming back. I think we'll be fine."

The Firebirds have a lot of potential in the backfield. It's great to see senior Sam Skwarlo back on the field after he suffered a season-ending injury (Lisfranc in left foot) in the season-opener last year. Skwarlo looked like he was running at full speed on Tuesday at both running back and linebacker. Add junior Zion Bowlin to the mix and Free State has two runners with a great mix of speed and strength in the backfield.

The biggest question for the Firebirds is the offensive line. They lost four starters from last year, including first-team All-Sunflower League left tackle Scott Frantz. But senior Tanner Liba, who started at right tackle last year, is confident of the progress they've made during the team camps. Liba noted how well Garrett Swisher and Chase Houk have looked in the past week.

"Pretty much as line, we just need to see what we need to work on," said Liba when asked how team camps help linemen. "How much harder we need to get off the ball. Just stuff like that.

"So far, I think we're looking pretty good. I think that we can build up to where we were last year, especially with our first week of camp and we still have a whole summer ahead of us."

It's also interesting to see how the Firebirds are rebuilding the defensive line without first-team All-league selection Shane Hofer. Senior Jalen Galloway returns at end, but they've added Darian Lewis to the mix on the line. Both Galloway and Lewis are athletic enough to make up for any size disadvantage.

The one group that caught some of the coaches' ire was linebackers. They had a few missed assignments, which is to be expected for this stage of the season. But they will be held to a high standard this season, returning so many players from last year, including Skwarlo, Bowlin, seniors Drew Tochtrop and Paul Bittenger and junior Jay Dineen.




Now for thoughts on Lawrence High:

After strong seasons in track, running backs JD Woods and Trey Moore look as elusive as ever. The self-proclaimed duo "Smash and dash" will have pretty high expectations this season. Woods returns after leading the Sunflower League in rushing last year with 1,667 yards, adding 20 touchdowns. They looked strong in read-options, making good cuts and showing their big-play capabilities on Tuesday.

The defense has a ton of returning starters, but it will be led by its linemen. Seniors Amani Bledsoe and Trey Georgie look bigger and stronger after an offseason in the weight room, drawing rave reviews from their teammates.

"Oh man, it’s awesome,'" said senior Peter Afful, who has been getting some reps on the defensive line, along with playing some H-back on offense. "When I’m looking at the D-line, I’m just like, ‘Wow.’ I’m happy I get to play behind these big guys, you know. It’s really nice."

How helpful are the team camps for the LHS defensive line?

"I think practicing against ourselves, we know the plays pretty much," Georgie said. "And some people might go easy because we’re a team. But here, we don’t know the kids and we’re just here to play football."

Speaking of the defense, seniors Price Morgan and Tanner Green shined at linebacker on Tuesday. As they've shown over the last two seasons, they have a knack for finding the football and using their speed to get to wherever they need to on the field. Of course, there was no tackling on Tuesday, but they were frequently in the right place to make plays.

Senior quarterback Alan Clothier showed off his arm a little bit on Tuesday and made some strong throws. He wasn't asked to make a ton of throws last year, but it looks like he's been working on his throws in the offseason. Adding his arm to their rushing attack will only make the Lions that much more explosive.

The Lions have high expectations this season, returning 17 starters from last year and are just pumped for the season to get started.

"Honestly, I was talking to my teammate Ivan Hollins before this," Afful said, "and he asked me, ‘P, how ready are you for the season?’ I told him, ‘Words can’t even describe it already.’ I’m very excited for this season and I know big things are coming our way."

Georgie added: "We’re hungry for September 4th to come around. We want to get that first game under our belt. We want to see where the season will take us."


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State’s girls basketball season ends in sub-state finals; Thomas leads player ratings

Once Free State High girls basketball players look back upon their season, they will be proud of their accomplishments. They had the most regular season wins in school history.

But on Saturday night, it was just too painful to put a positive spin on anything. The Firebirds lost 49-45 to Shawnee Mission West in the sub-state championship game.

Free State led for just 70 seconds in the fourth quarter, but there was always that sense that the Firebirds would find a way to pull out a victory. With the Vikings focused on stopping Madison Piper and Sarah Coversup, they had several players step up with Cameryn Thomas, Jaycie Bishop and Adriana Jadlow all scoring at least five points.

"It’s really hard to take," Piper said afterward. "It’s just like last year’s Manhattan game (in the sub-state finals), but this is worse because I really felt like we could have made it to state. It’s tough."

Lawrence High's girls basketball team had its season end with a 46-23 loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest. The Lions had a few scoring droughts that prevented them from keeping up with the top-seeded Cougars.

“I’m incredibly proud of our season,” senior Marissa Pope said. “People didn’t expect us to get as far as we did. They didn’t expect us to get seven wins or win a sub-state game.”

I think it's safe to say both Free State and LHS girls basketball programs took big strides in a positive direction this season.

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Cameryn Thomas, fr. — With SM West focused on stopping Madison Piper and Sarah Coversup, the Firebirds’ 5-foot-6 point guard made them pay for not placing more attention on her. Thomas had one of her best games of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. She also had three steals and an assist. She crashed the offensive glass for some key rebounds, especially in the fourth quarter, and she moved the ball well on offense, committing just one turnover.

  2. Madison Piper, so. — Piper was the focal point of the Vikings’ defense, and they did a good job of throwing her off her rhythm, as she shot 3-for-10 from the field. But Piper couldn’t be stopped completely, turning into a distributor and picking up four assists to go along with seven points, three rebounds and two blocks.

  3. Sarah Coversup, sr. — For the first half, SM West did a good job of keeping Coversup contained on offense. But in the final 16 minutes, the 6-foot-1 forward used her strength to score 10 of her team-high 13 points. She muscled inside for space, did a good job catching her teammates’ passes and finished through contact. She finished with four rebounds.

  4. Jaycie Bishop, so. — Bishop was a big reason the Firebirds kept the score close in the second quarter. The Vikings scored on five straight possessions at one point, but Bishop answered with two triples on back-to-back possessions, one three from the right corner and another from the wing. Two minutes later, she also scored off an inbounds pass with a close jump shot. She added four assists, two steals and two rebounds.

    “It was really nice to finally be able to make them,” Bishop said of her threes, “because I know my coaches have been really telling me to work on them and have more confidence in myself and my shot. So I have to give a big thanks to them because in the game, I just set it up and it went in.”

  5. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — Jadlow had some nice stretches, but SM West’s zone kept her from attacking the basket with her usual tenacity. She scored four of her five points in the first five minutes of the second half. She also had two rebounds, two assists and a steal.

  6. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — At the end of the first quarter, Piper found Shoemaker on the low block and the 5-foot-11 forward and star discus thrower (7th at state last year) scored right before the buzzer on her only shot. She also played good defense in the low post.

  7. Peyton Brown, jr. — The 5-foot-8 forward played good defense off of the bench and kept the ball moving on offense. She didn’t attempt a shot.

  8. Morgan Gantz, sr. — The senior point guard came off of the bench in the second quarter, but didn’t attempt a shot from the field.

    — Record: 17-5.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Player ratings from the basketball City Showdown; LHS boys and FSHS girls complete season sweeps

After 13 weeks, the postseason has arrived for all of the city high school basketball teams.

But what a way to end the regular season with another chapter of the City Showdown in the books. Free State's girls basketball team played well on both sides of court in a 58-45 victory and Lawrence High's boys basketball team relied on its defense to pull away for a 57-50 win.

Starting with the girls' game, it's easy to see what an impact freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas makes for the Firebirds with her ability to set up the team's offense. Even with sophomore wing Madison Piper facing plenty of defensive pressure, senior forwards Adriana Jadlow and Sarah Coversup were able to play strong in the low post.

Lawrence's girls basketball players had one bad quarter, which put them in a hole they couldn't climb out of. But they're proving they can hang with elite teams and have improved since their last matchup against Free State in December. If the Lions can avoid some bad stretches and play like they did in the first and fourth quarters, they could pull off some upsets in sub-state.

Free State's boys basketball team made some uncharacteristic errors in the second quarter with a few defensive breakdowns and unforced turnovers. But as Tom Keegan wrote in his column about the Firebirds, they didn't need to use the stall tactic they used in December to keep up with the second-ranked team in the state, proving how far they have come along this season.

The LHS boys completed a perfect Sunflower League season, and showed why with their ability to score quickly and play tough defense. Now the Lions have arrived to the part of the season they've been waiting for. During the summer, they said they had state-title-or-bust expectations, and they'll have to reel off five straight wins to complete that goal.

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, so. — Piper was face-guarded by LHS guards Marissa Pope and Skylar Drum, and drew double teams when she tried to drive. That didn’t stop her from scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds. On defense, she blocked a shot and grabbed a steal.

  2. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — The 6-foot small forward played hard and couldn’t be stopped on both sides of the ball. When the Firebirds pulled away in the second quarter, she scored seven of her 16 points, fighting through contact for layups and even banking in a three-pointer. She also had four rebounds, two steals, a block and drew a charge in the fourth quarter.

  3. Sarah Coversup, sr. — Coversup had to fight for space inside the paint, and she did a good job finishing through contact. She scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and just missed out on a double-double with nine rebounds.

  4. Cameryn Thomas, fr. — In just her second game back from a knee injury, Thomas looked like she was playing close to 100 percent. She had a tough matchup against Pope on defense and did a solid job staying in between her and the rim. Thomas had three assists, grabbed four rebounds and scored three points.

  5. Hannah Walter, jr. — Walter played strong defense on the perimeter and also played good help-side defense. She scored one point, grabbed three rebounds and had one steal.

  6. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — The 5-foot-11 forward was strong on the defensive glass, grabbing four rebounds off of the bench. She also scored on a layup, running past the defense and catching a full-court pass from Piper.

  7. Morgan Gantz, sr. — The senior point guard played well off of the bench, helping move the ball around on offense. She didn’t attempt a shot but dished an assist to Piper on a three.

  8. Jaycie Bishop, so. — Bishop played solid defense of off the bench and didn’t attempt a shot from the field.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Thursday vs. KC Wyandotte. Record: 16-4.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Hunter Gudde, jr. — With Lawrence High’s defense focused on stopping Hack, Gudde provided a ton of offense for the Firebirds. He scored six points in an 8-1 run to open the second half and he finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, an assist and a block.

  2. Weston Hack, sr. — Hack was guarded tightly the entire game, and he still found a way to make a huge impact. He had a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. When the Firebirds tried to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, it was led by Hack who scored nine points in the final period.

  3. Justin Narcomey, sr. — Narcomey knocked down a three-pointer in the first quarter, giving the Firebirds an 11-6 lead, their biggest lead of the game. He had to run around everywhere on defense, guarding LHS senior Anthony Bonner. He also had an assist and a steal.

  4. Andrew Keating, sr. — The 5-foot-9 point guard was strong with the ball and played solid defense, though he was limited by foul trouble in the second half. He scored two points on a nice drive to the rim and he had one steal.

  5. Jacob Pavlyak, so. — Pavlyak had the tough task of matching up with Lions point guard Justin Roberts on defense, and he did well staying in front of him, trying to limit drives to the hoop. He missed his only shot, a three-pointer, and he grabbed one rebound.

  6. Jay Dineen, so. — The 6-foot linebacker did his best to contain LHS senior Anthony Bonner, and he helped force a couple of turnovers. He scored two points from the free throw line and grabbed a steal.

  7. Jack Raney, sr. — Raney was strong in the first quarter, playing solid defense and helping move the ball around on offense. He missed his only shot, a three-pointer, but he grabbed two rebounds, a steal and dished an assist to Narcomey for a three.

  8. Sloan Thomsen, so. — Thomsen heated up in the final 20 seconds, knocking down two three-pointers. He also had a rebound. When he enters games, opposing teams know his ability to shoot from deep, but he does a good job finding space to launch away.

  9. Chrision Wilburn, jr. — Wilburn played a few minutes off of the bench but didn’t attempt a shot from the field.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Wednesday at SM North. Record: 11-9.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Marissa Pope, sr. — It’s rare to see a team’s best offensive player guard the opposing team’s best player because they try to conserve energy for offense. That doesn’t apply to Pope, who guarded Piper for the majority of the game and did a good job defensively. Pope received a lot of attention when she had the ball and she scored all five of her team’s points in the second quarter. She finished with 10 points and two steals.

  2. Alexis Boyd, jr. — Boyd was given some space to hit mid-range jumpers and she delivered with 14 points. When she’s making shots, it makes the Lions that much better. She scored six points apiece in the first quarter and fourth quarter and grabbed six rebounds.

  3. E’lease Stafford, fr. — There was something different about Stafford in the fourth quarter. She was aggressive and wasn’t going to let anybody stop her. She scored eight points in the final eight minutes and was everywhere on the court trying to help her team make a comeback. Incredible effort and she showed how big of a difference she can make for the Lions.

  4. Matia Finley, sr. — Finley played well on the low post, matching up against Coversup and doing a good job playing help defense. She scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and had one steal.

  5. Skylar Drum, so. — Drum couldn’t get her shots to drop so she helped out her team in a lot of other ways. She grabbed four rebounds, had three assists, blocked a shot and had one steal. She also had three points.

  6. Olivia Lemus, so. — The 5-foot-4 guard usually sticks behind the three-point line but she had some nice drives on Friday. She scored four points, had two rebounds and dished one assist on a layup to Boyd.

  7. Rebecca Finley, sr. — Finley gets bonus points in my book for my favorite senior advice in Friday’s program, “Any pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself.” Classic. She grabbed four rebounds, but missed the two shots she took from the field in her Senior Night start.

  8. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin played a few minutes off of the bench, grabbed one rebound and missed the only shot she took.

  9. Madison McKinney, so. — McKinney played hard defense on the perimeter but didn’t attempt a shot.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Thursday at SM South. Record: 6-14.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Anthony Bonner, sr. — Trailing by five points after the first quarter, Bonner went to work to pull the Lions back ahead. He opened the second quarter with a floater and eventually scored eight points in the period. The Firebirds face-guarded him with Narcomey and Dineen, but he kept finding ways to score via threes, slashes to the rim or pull-up jumpers. He scored a game-high 21 points, and had four rebounds and three assists.

  2. Justin Roberts, jr. — Along with Bonner, Roberts played a huge role in the Lions’ huge second quarter, scoring seven points and dishing three assists. He also faced tight defense from Keating and Pavlyak but he didn’t let that stop him from driving to the rim to get to the free throw line. On defense, he was smart but aggressive and kept the Firebirds from setting up some of their plays with tight ball pressure. He had 16 points, four assists, three steals and a rebound.

  3. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee couldn’t get his shot to drop, scoring one point on 1-of-3 shooting, but that was probably the only negative to his night. He played tight defense on Hack, limiting the Free State’s leading scorer to 11 points in the first three quarters. He also dominated on the glass, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds while dishing two assists, snagging two steals and blocking a shot.

    “I thought he did a great job as usual,” LHS coach Mike Lewis said of Barbee. “He’s a good defensive player. As a team, I just liked the way our seniors got in the game. I liked the way they contributed. I just like the overall feel of the game.”

  4. Price Morgan, jr. — When the Lions needed offense in the first quarter, Morgan was there to pick them up. He scored the game’s opening bucket on a nice roll to the basket and four minutes later, he slammed home a one-handed dunk on a nice drive to the hoop. He finished with six points and a steal.

  5. Ben Rajewski, sr. — Rajewski had some nice looks behind the three-point line, creating space with pump-fakes or shaking his defenders, but he just couldn’t get them to drop. Instead, he played solid defense and had good ball movement on offense. He had one rebound.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — Off of the bench, the 6-foot-3 senior made a big impact on his Senior Night. He scored on a layup midway through the fourth quarter and he grabbed four rebounds. He also played strong defense in the low post.

  7. Fred Brou, jr. — The 6-foot-5 junior brought a ton of energy off of the bench. I thought Brou played one of his best games of late with four points, including a buzzer-beating layup before halftime, two blocks and two steals. He was just locked in once he came off of the bench.

  8. Anthony Harvey, jr. — Harvey missed his only shot, a three-pointer, but he was flying around on defense, playing help-side and fighting through a few screens. He grabbed one rebound.

  9. Kyle Hoffman, sr. — Hoffman had plenty of chants from the student section and he nearly delivered with a three-pointer from the wing. Instead, he settled for three free throws.

  10. Jackson Mallory, so. — Mallory entered late in the fourth quarter and sunk three free throws in the final 12 seconds.

  11. Tae Shorter, sr. — Shorter picked up some nice minutes on his Senior Night and played solid defense. He scored one point and grabbed a rebound.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. SM Northwest. Record: 19-1..

Here is a look at the sub-state brackets. Two teams earn trips to state from each sub-state, so two wins equals a berth at the state tournament in Wichita.

BOYS (starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday)

8. Shawnee Mission Northwest (3-17) at 1. Lawrence High (19-1)

5. Shawnee Mission East (11-9) at 4. Shawnee Mission South (11-9)

6. Free State (11-9) at 3. Shawnee Mission North (13-7)

7. Shawnee Mission West (9-11) at 2. KC Wyandotte (15-5)

GIRLS (starts at 7 p.m. Thursday)

8. Shawnee Mission East (1-19) at 1. Shawnee Mission Northwest (17-3)

5. Lawrence High (6-14) at 4. Shawnee Mission South (7-13)

6. Shawnee Mission North (4-16) at 3. Shawnee Mission West (12-8)

7. KC Wyandotte (1-14) at 2. Free State (16-4)


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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The basketball City Showdown has arrived; video introductions from players

Eighty-four days ago, Lawrence High and Free State's girls basketball team stepped on the floor for their first game of the season. One day before that, Free State's boys basketball team made its debut.

Now we've arrived to the final game in the regular season — the City Showdown, which begins with the girls game at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The boys will follow afterward.

All four teams have come a long ways since their first game. The second-ranked Lawrence boys basketball players have surpassed their win total from a year ago, and the ninth-ranked Free State girls are one win away from setting a new program record for wins in a season.

Meanwhile, Free State's boys basketball team overcame some offensive woes early in the season and have won six of its last eight games. The LHS girls have won three straight games for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

With sub-state approaching next week, I think it's safe to say that both of the boys and girls basketball teams from the two schools are trending in the right direction at the right time. So you couldn't time it any better for the two rivals to face off for the second time this season.

I could see any of the teams pulling out wins on Friday, and that's the great thing about the City Showdown. It should be a fun night.


I stopped by each school to get video introductions of all of the teams' starting lineups. I also asked all of the players to name their favorite basketball player at any level. Most of the people in the video started in their most recent games, but these aren't the official starters for Friday. You can watch the video below:


Some quick notes on a couple of Lawrence natives:

--Former Free State basketball star Kennedy Kirkpatrick is averaging 5.3 points per game off of the bench for Bowling Green University's women's basketball team. She scored a game-high 18 points in a 66-53 win over Miami (Ohio) about a month ago in 26 minutes.

--A few weeks ago, former Free State distance runner Bailey Sullivan, now at Texas Christian University, helped set a new school record in the women's distance medley relay. Sullivan ran the first leg, 1200-meters, in their record time of 11:42.32, which broke a 14-year old record by more than eight seconds.

--Former Lawrence High star pitcher Garrett Cleavinger has picked up two saves for the University of Oregon this season in three appearances.


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State hoops split against Olathe East; Firebird boys beat William Chrisman

Free State High's boys basketball team played two games that were nearly polar opposites of each other on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, the Firebirds struggled to hit shots in their rematch against fourth-ranked Olathe East, losing 52-44 at home on Senior Night. Then the next night, there was no pressure. It wasn't a league game. There weren't any Senior Night festivities. Free State responded by shooting lights out in a 63-47 victory against William Chrisman.

"Obviously Olathe East’s length gave us a lot of difficulty last night," FSHS coach Chuck Law said Saturday. "Chrisman doesn’t quite have that same length, although they have some really good basketball players and some fine athletes. But we talked about that going in, kind of clearing our system from last night, coming in and being confident. ... Just go out and play loose, and I think that’s what we did."

It'll be interesting to see how the Firebirds respond to their next two games, facing a gritty Shawnee Mission West team on Tuesday, then a rematch against Lawrence High in the City Showdown on Friday, both on the road.

Free State's girls basketball team used a big fourth quarter to beat Olathe East, 49-43, in their lone game of the weekend.

The ninth-ranked Firebirds, who own a 14-4 record, likely will earn the second seed in their sub-state bracket, which would mean they get all their sub-state games at home. They're still hoping to get freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas back on the court soon, but I think they've gained a lot of confidence playing without her.

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, so. — Olathe East’s coach was yelling at his players to be aware of where Piper was on the court. It didn’t make much of a difference. Piper scored a game-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds, three blocks and two assists. She opened the second half with seven straight points, keeping the Firebirds in the lead before their big fourth quarter.

  2. Sarah Coversup, sr. — When the Firebirds went on their big run in the fourth quarter, Coversup scored seven points in the first four minutes. She drained a three, fought inside for layups and knocked down some free throws. She finished with 16 points and six rebounds.

  3. Hannah Walter, jr. — Walter didn’t leave the court in the second half because she was doing a good job defending Olathe East’s point guard and taking ball-handling responsibilities for the Firebirds. She scored three points, had four rebounds and one steal.

  4. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — Jadlow didn’t have her best day shooting the ball, scoring four points on 2 of 5 shooting, but she didn’t let that affect her on the other side of the court. She had two rebounds, a steal and a block. She has a great sense of when to double-team in the corners and plays passing lanes well, knocking a few balls out of bounds.

  5. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — The 5-foot-11 forward made a big impact in the first quarter, scoring four points and collecting two rebounds. She did a good job playing defense in the post without fouling, forcing Olathe East into some bad shots.

  6. Jaycie Bishop, so. — Bishop played the passing lanes well and it forced some bad passes. She had one steal and scored three points, all at the free throw line. She also had two assists, setting a layup by Shoemaker and a jumper by Piper.

  7. Morgan Gantz, sr. — Gantz did a good job setting up the Firebirds offense, never turning the ball over. She didn’t attempt any shots but had one rebound.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shawnee Mission West. Record: 14-4.

Free State boys basketball vs. Olathe East

  1. Justin Narcomey, sr. — With extra family and friends watching on his Senior Night, Narcomey put on a show in the first quarter with eight points, drilling two three-pointers. When the Hawks did their best to stop him from getting looks from behind the arc, he snuck behind them into the paint for layups. He finished with 12 points, two rebounds and an assist.

  2. Hunter Gudde, jr. — When the Firebirds needed some scoring, Gudde responded by scoring eight of his 10 points in the first half. He added six rebounds and an assist.

  3. Weston Hack, sr. — Hack was held scoreless in the first half, but he let the game come to him. He still made good passes, recording three assists and he did a good job grabbing six rebounds. In the second half, he found his offensive rhythm and scored 14 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

  4. Andrew Keating, sr. — Keating did a good job at the top of the Firebirds’ 2-3 zone and he handled the speed of Olathe East’s guards. He scored four points and had one assist.

  5. Jack Raney, sr. — He misfired on two three-pointers, but was solid defensively against some skilled Olathe East guards and forwards. He had two rebounds.

  6. Sloan Thomsen, so. — Thomsen had some decent looks but just couldn’t get his shot to fall, going 0-4 from the field. However, he played good defense and he grabbed three rebounds.

  7. Jay Dineen, so. — The 6-foot sophomore always brings a lot of energy off of the bench and Friday was no different. He scored two points on a coast-to-coast layup after grabbing a steal.

  8. Caleb Holland, sr. — He earned the Senior Night start and did some good things defensively. He didn’t attempt a shot.

  9. Chrision Wilburn, jr. — Wilburn scored on a putback late in the second quarter for his only points and rebound of the game.

  10. Shannon Cordes (so.) and Jacob Pavlyak (so.) — Both of them entered the game in the final minute when the Firebirds were fouling.

Free State boys basketball vs. William Chrisman

  1. Weston Hack, sr. — One day after going scoreless in the first half, Hack couldn’t be stopped in the first two quarters, scoring 16 points. After Chrisman focused on him afterward, he did damage on the glass, and just missed out on a double-double with eight rebounds to go along with his game-high 24 points. He also had three assists and a steal without any turnovers.

  2. Hunter Gudde, jr. — Gudde let the game come to him, and his teammates found him under the hoop for layup after layup. He finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.

  3. Jacob Pavlyak, so. — Playing extensive minutes for the first time since an injury, Pavlyak did a great job against Chrisman’s top three-point threats with his face-guard defense. He did a good job moving the ball on offensee and finished with five points and an assist.

  4. Jay Dineen, so. — There were a few moments where Dineen played a little out of control, but when he was in rhythm, he did a little bit of everything. He had three points, two rebounds and two assists.

  5. Justin Narcomey, sr. — Narcomey couldn’t get his threes to fall, going 0 for 2 from deep, but he hounded Chrisman’s top players on defense, denying them the ball. He scored two points at the free throw line, had five rebounds and two assists.

  6. Andrew Keating, sr. — The 5-foot-9 point guard didn’t score, but he chased Chrisman’s top guards around the court in the second half, preventing them from getting any quality looks. Keating also had a nice steal, and somehow didn’t turn the ball over when he fell down while being double-teamed in front of Chrisman’s bench, by slipping a pass through the defenders.

  7. Darian Lewis, jr. — Lewis provided quite a few minutes off of the bench in the first half, scoring two points and grabbing a rebound.

    “I thought we got some nice minutes off the bench from some other guys,” FSHS coach Chuck Law said. “I thought Darian Lewis in the first half gave us a real nice lift. Jacob Pavlyak, back from injury, gave us a lift.”

  8. Chrision Wilburn, jr. — Wilburn played well off of the bench, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds.

  9. Jack Raney, sr. — Raney missed the two shots he took, but he moved the ball well on offense and always provides reliable defense.

  10. Sloan Thomsen, so. — Thomsen knocked down an early three-pointer to give the Firebirds their first lead of the game.

  11. Caleb Holland (sr.), Shannon Cordes (so.), Kristian Rawls (jr.), Zion Bowlin (so.) — All of them entered in the fourth quarter, and didn’t attempt a shot from the field. Cordes missed two free throws and Rawls swatted a Chrisman layup attempt out of bounds.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Tuesday at SM West. Record: 10-8.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State basketball sweeps SM South; Hack and Piper lead scoring and player ratings

It took most of the first half for Free State High's girls basketball players to adjust to Shawnee Mission South's full-court press defense and an offense that can knock down threes.

But once the Firebirds adjusted, there was no holding them back. Free State picked up a road victory, 59-48, and the Firebirds are proving that they can adjust their style of play on the fly.

Without freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas, the Firebirds have been forced to adjust their offense. They couldn't get into the offensive sets they used to and they've had some problems avoiding traps when bringing the ball up the court.

But now, it looks like they're getting more comfortable. If they can get Thomas back to playing the way she was before her knee injury, the Firebirds should become a better team because of it.

"I think it was more just a focus," FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said of the slow start. "Nobody got upset. No one freaked out. I think we just knew we had to adjust to their style a little bit. I think more than anything, it was just settling in and getting to used to their style of play. … The biggest thing was also just handling their pressure. We adjusted a little on our press break. We controlled the tempo after the first quarter."

Free State's boys basketball team rebounded from a tough loss last week with one of its best performances of the year.

The Firebirds shot a ridiculous 17-for-27 from the field to pull away in a 50-30 road victory at Shawnee Mission South. They also played great defense in a 2-3 zone, holding SM South's top scorers to bad shooting nights.

"I think we had a wakeup call from Friday night," FSHS coach Chuck Law said. "Olathe South shredded us. Olathe South shot 63 percent from the field, 80-plus percent from the foul line. We talked about that. This needed to be a game where we stayed discipline and kept the other team under control.

"As porous as we were defensively on Friday, I expected a better effort tonight, and we got it."

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, so. — It’s impressive to see how much Piper has improved from last year, when she was a first-team All-Sunflower League player. She’s asked to do a lot more this year and she delivers game after game. She had a game-high 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five steals.

    “We’re playing her 32 minutes and she’s guarding a good player on the defensive end, she’s scoring, she’s taking it to the basket,” FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said. “Now we’re saying you need to handle the ball against 80 feet of pressure, and she does it and does it well. So I think it’s making her a complete player and I thought she was extra aggressive tonight getting to the basket. That’s changing our game.”

  2. Sarah Coversup, sr. — With opposing teams playing full-court defense against the Firebirds, Coversup hasn’t been able to make as big of an impact in the post, as she tried to help bring the ball up the court. She went to the back of the press on Tuesday, and it helped her get back into a rhythm offensively. She scored 21 points, nine of 10 at the free throw line, to go along with six rebounds and two blocks.

  3. Hannah Walter, jr. — Walter did a great job bringing the ball up the court and playing solid defense. She fouled out with 2:19 left, but finished with two points and three rebounds.

  4. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — Jadlow didn’t end up with a steal, but tipped at least a few passes on defense. Offensively, she scored six points on 3 of 6 shooting and she grabbed one rebound.

  5. Jaycie Bishop, so. — After missing a pair of games because of a leg injury, Bishop returned and knocked down a three in her first few seconds on the court. She played solid defense and did a good job making the extra pass on offense.

    “We thought Jaycie had an excellent game tonight on both ends of the floor,” Duncan said. “She played smart and she just made good decisions. She hit a shot but more importantly, she made a couple of great passes. She’s just steady on defense.”

  6. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — Shoemaker played great defense off of the bench and did a good job setting screens on offense. She scored two points on a layup, grabbed three rebounds and had an assist.

  7. Morgan Gantz, sr. — Gantz was strong with the ball against full-court pressure. She didn’t attempt a shot, but had a rebound and an assist.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday vs. Olathe East. Record: 13-4.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Weston Hack, sr. — Hack did a little bit of everything to help the Firebirds on Tuesday, though the Raiders were focused on stopping him. The senior guard finished with a game-high 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. He did a great job handling the ball against SM South’s full-court press.

  2. Justin Narcomey, sr. — The 6-foot-1 guard has struggled from behind the three-point arc at times this season, but he knocked down his first attempt and didn’t look back on Tuesday. He had 10 points, 2 of 4 from three, to go along with three rebounds and an assist. Defensively, he drew a charge and did a good job forcing bad passes with his length.

  3. Hunter Gudde, jr. — Gudde always does a good job stuffing stat sheets and it was no different on Tuesday. He had 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. He did an excellent job driving the ball and moving the ball along the perimeter.

  4. Andrew Keating, sr. — Keating made a big impact on both ends of the court on Tuesday. He finished with eight points, scoring four points in a 6-0 run to open the second half, and he added two assists and two steals. He didn’t do anything flashy but was really consistent and he did a good job defensively at the top of the Firebirds’ 2-3 zone.

  5. Sloan Thomsen, so. — The 6-foot-5 sophomore drilled a three before the buzzer in the first quater, but perhaps his best sequence was blocking two SM South layup attempts within 15 seconds of each other.

  6. Jay Dineen, so. — Dineen brought a lot of energy off of the bench and did a good job moving the ball around on offense. He scored three points, dropping in a wide-open layup when he snuck behind the defense, and he had two rebounds.

  7. Jack Raney, sr. — Raney missed his only shot, a three in the first quarter, but he played hard-nosed defense in the post and provided good spacing on offense.

  8. Chrision Wilburn, jr. — Wilburn was the first player off of the bench, and played well defensively. He scored two points late in the fourth quarter at the free throw line.

  9. Shannon Cordes (so.), Darian Lewis (jr.), Kristian Rawls (jr.) and Caleb Holland (sr.) — All four of them entered with 1:45 remaining as the Firebirds were running out the clock.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday vs. #5 Olathe East. Record: 9-7.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State hoops sweep SM North; Hack and Piper lead player ratings

Earlier this season, Free State boys basketball coach Chuck Law talked about how the offense wasn't clicking the way he was hoping for, and how that was the missing piece when they were playing strong defense in losses.

I don't think anyone has to wonder anymore about how dangerous the Firebirds are with an offense that's found a rhythm. They beat sixth-ranked Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday, 69-57, at home.

"I've told the guys in the locker room," senior guard Weston Hack said, "when we were all talking, I said, 'Three or four weeks ago, I think when they cut it to 58-54 or at any other point before that, we might just fold. They might just run away with it. Then it would just be a free throw shooting contest at the end but it would be their game to lose.' But we battled and came out here with a win."

The Firebirds aren't folding when the going gets tough anymore. Right now with their confidence, I don't think any team in the Sunflower League would want to play them. Now on their first three-game win streak of the year, they have some good matchups coming up to really show their potential: vs. Olathe South, at SM South, and a rematch at home against Olathe East, who they lost to in the third-place game at the Aquinas Tournament.

Give a lot of credit to Free State's girls basketball team for its 52-20 victory against SM North on Tuesday. The Firebirds didn't get to play the style they wanted (or were even really expecting), and they are down two starting guards: Cameryn Thomas and Jaycie Bishop.

But after a slow first quarter, they adjusted well and dominated. Even though SM North is at the bottom of the league standings, they avoided a trap game and bounced back after a loss on Friday.

"It was a huge motivation," senior Hannah Shoemaker said of Friday's loss. "We'll have bumps to go over, it's part of the journey. I think that a main thing to focus on is that those losses only plunge us to our next success. ... I think a key to success is acknowledging that we lost, don't ignore it, face up with it and then move on. Use it to succeed."

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, so. — The big key to the Firebirds’ win was moving Piper into the paint and running the offense through her when she was in a good position to shoot or pass. She scored a game-high 17 points, had five assists, four rebounds, a steal and no turnovers. With freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas still out with an injury, Piper’s doing a good job of running the offense.

  2. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — With the game going at a slow pace for most of the first half, Jadlow helped quicken it up. She doubled teamed ball handlers from anywhere on the court and she was aggressive on offense. She finished with 11 points, six rebounds and an assist.

  3. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — Shoemaker was one of the biggest differences for the Firebirds in the first half. Once she entered, they went on a big run and the game was never close again. She scored six points and had seven rebounds.

    “I’m not really an offensive player,” Shoemaker said. “I love to screen, honestly. And I love what me and Madison do, where I always go backdoor where she is and wait for the rebound or wait for her, because she’s really good at passing out of traps, so that’s how I make my points.”

  4. Sarah Coversup, sr. — Coversup was limited defensively because SM North made the girl she was guarding the primary ball handler. That pushed the Firebirds’ top shot blocker closer to half court to play defense. She still scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and got steals on back-to-back possessions in the second half.

  5. Morgan Gantz, sr. — The Firebirds’ 5-foot-4 senior point guard played well and was stronger with the ball on Tuesday. She scored one point, but had four rebounds and an assist.

  6. Hannah Walter, jr. — Walter played solid defense on the perimeter and was just as good on offense. She scored three points, had three rebounds and a steal.

  7. Calli Bowen, so. — Bowen came off of the bench in the second quarter and helped bring the ball up the court. She didn’t take any shots.

  8. Jaelyn McKay, fr. — The 5-foot-6 freshman had a good command of the court in the final minutes. She knocked down a three-pointer, grabbed two rebounds and had a great assist from around half court.

  9. Erin Cushing, fr. — Cushing did a nice job playing point guard in the final few minutes. She scored two points at the free throw line after missing a three. She also dished an assist.

  10. Molly Murray, fr. — From the top of the arc right before the final horn, Murray drilled a three and was mobbed by her teammates, giving a nice ending to the night for the Firebirds.

  11. Sophia Jadlow, so. — Jadlow snuck past the defense and scored on a layup late in the fourth quarter.

  12. Caroline Patton, fr. — Patton did a nice job cleaning up the glass, grabbing four rebounds. However, she missed her only shot from the field and two free throws.

  13. Peyton Brown, jr. — Brown entered in the fourth quarter and grabbed a steal.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday vs. #3 Olathe South. Record: 12-3.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Weston Hack, sr. — Hack has taken his game to another level in the past week. Four days after scoring a career-high 28 points, he topped it by dropping 30. It’s impressive because he’s not forcing his shot, but he’s letting the game come to him and making the most of it. He also had eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

    “He’s doing what a senior, best player on the team is supposed to do,” FSHS coach Chuck Law said. “He’s taking over games when he needs to. He involves his teammates which also allows him to control the game at times. You notice his stat line, he fills it up. Hunter (Gudde) is kind of the same way. They are just stat sheet fillers.”

  2. Hunter Gudde, jr. — I joked on Twitter about Gudde being dunked on early in the game, but he had a great all-around game on Tuesday. Gudde drew a few offensive fouls, which led to SM North’s top two scores fouling out in the fourth quarter. On offense, he was Hack’s sidekick when he wasn’t limited by foul trouble late in the second half. Gudde finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists.

  3. Andrew Keating, sr. — Keating had the tough defensive assignment of face-guarding Michael Weathers in the first quarter, and he did a good job holding him to two points and drawing an offensive foul. Keating scored seven points and had one rebound before exiting with an injury late in the third quarter trying to keep Weathers from stealing the ball.

  4. Jack Raney, sr. — Raney had a solid game on both sides of the court. He scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds and had two assists.

  5. Sloan Thomsen, so. — When Free State needed a lift, Thomsen was there, knocking down two three-pointers midway through the third quarter. He also grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot. You can tell he’s gained a lot of confidence shooting the ball over the past month or so.

  6. Jay Dineen, so. — The Firebirds’ middle linebacker was well-suited for Tuesday’s physical game. He grabbed two steals and nearly had a few more diving all over the court. He scored three points and had three rebounds. He’s also an underrated passer, and is good at finding open teammates.

  7. Justin Narcomey, sr. — Narcomey didn’t fill up the stat sheet on Tuesday, but he still had a big impact. He scored two points and had one rebound, but he plays such good help side defense and does a good job of providing space and stability on offense.

  8. Chrision Wilburn, jr. — Wilburn does a good job in the middle of the Firebirds’ zone defense using his 6-foot-3 length. He didn’t take a shot on offense.

  9. Shannon Cordes, so. — Cordes entered in the fourth quarter and went 1-for-3 at the free-throw line.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Olathe South. Record: 8-6.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State boys swim team breaks records and takes 2nd at league, LHS finishes 5th

Free State and Lawrence High boys swimming and diving teams have plenty to celebrate after competing at the Sunflower League meet on Friday and Saturday.

The Firebirds won six league titles, with two relays, and two victories each by senior Jack Ziegler and sophomore Jordan Portela. The two relays broke meet records, Ziegler broke a meet and school record in the 50-yard freestyle, and Portela broke a meet and FSHS record in the 100 butterfly.

Add all of that up, and the Firebirds took second place in the league, their best finish since tying for second place in 2004. That was the same year Portela's older brother Anthony won a league title in the butterfly and also helped set a then-meet record in the 400 freestyle relay.

"It was great," Jordan Portela said. "We had a lot of competition, even between swimmers on our own team, so that was fun and pushed us pretty hard. Second, I mean we were going in and looking at that place. Shawnee Mission East has a lot of depth on their team. … We’re all really happy. We broke a couple of records and we all got of bunch of best times so we’re pretty happy and ready for state."

The Firebirds also see plenty of room to improve before state, which could be a scary thing for opposing squads. Senior Nolan Stoppel slipped on a block in prelims, and fell into the consolation finals in the 50 freestyle. He took first place in the consolation finals, but his time, 22.25, was good enough for third if he was in the finals.

Senior Josh Terrell (200 IM, 100 breast), Evan Eskilson (100 fly) and Evan Yoder (100 breast) added top-three finishes.

"We have potential and we’re working on that," Annette McDonald said. "It was really fun to see our times drop but I think we’re going to see those times drop again."

Lawrence's team jumped from eighth place in the standings last year to fifth this season. Though the Lions' swimmers didn't drop as much time as they probably would have liked to, they still held off a few close challengers to keep a nice spot in the standings.

"Before the meet, I was hoping for fourth," LHS coach Kent McDonald said. "But after we saw the entries, I was pretty sure fifth would be about the highest we could get by the entry times. ... So I thought we had a good shot at holding onto fifth. But today, it wasn’t quite as good as yesterday."


I shot video of a couple of the new league meet records. The first is Ziegler's new league meet and school record in the 50 freestyle (21.08). Next is Portela's school and league meet record in the 100 fly (50.72), followed by the last two legs of the 400 freestyle relay, swam by Nolan Stoppel and Portela (3:14.12), which broke a league record. They are all in the third lane from the left, and the voices you hear are the SM East fans I was surrounded by.







As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State girls hoops takes 3rd place at Firebird Winter Classic; LHS finishes 6th

Free State High's girls basketball team had seen this play out before.

The Firebirds had a strong first quarter on Saturday, then their offense was limited by a full-court defense, which led to a comeback by their opponent.

Only this time, Free State fought back with some big baskets to beat Wichita Heights, 48-44. After the Firebirds' two-point loss to Hutchinson on Friday, they weren't about to let the same thing happen again.

It's easy to see how much freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas means to them after they committed 27 turnovers. But credit to them for playing such strong defense and rebounding so well that they could go through offensive slumps throughout the game and still find a way to win.

Lawrence High's girls basketball team played well early and brought a lot of energy to a 10:30 a.m. start time, but too many mistakes cost them in a 61-48 loss to Highland Park.

In a game with 50 fouls and a combined 63 free throws (not a typo), it was difficult for either team to get into an offensive rhythm. But the Lions hurt themselves by not rebounding well after missed free throws, which let Highland Park go on a few big runs in the second half.

"If we don’t want to continue to feel this way," LHS coach Jeff Dickson said after the loss, "we have got to take those next steps, and it’s not for a lack of effort and it’s not for a lack of working on it. We’ve got to get that to transfer from what we do in practice into a game setting."

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Alexis Boyd, jr. — When the Lions needed a bucket, they turned to Boyd in the fourth quarter. She scored a team-high 15 points with some nice moves in the paint and around the free-throw line. She also had four rebounds.

  2. Marissa Pope, sr. — The 5-foot-3 senior point guard didn’t have her shots dropping, but Pope made some great passes to set up her teammates, ending up with four assists. She also played good defense on the perimeter, snagging two steals to go along with seven points.

  3. Skylar Drum, so. — Drum was a little more aggressive with her shot than in the past few games, and it paid off with 10 points on 3 of 8 shooting from the field. She also grabbed six rebounds.

  4. Matia Finley, sr. — A two-time defending state champion in the discus in track and field, Finley’s had a good stretch of basketball lately. She grabbed eight rebounds and scored five points. She also blocked a shot.

  5. Olivia Lemus, so. — Lemus scored eight points on 3 of 10 shooting, but her two threes dropped at some big moments, one of them giving the Lions a brief lead early in the fourth quarter. She also had three rebounds and three steals.

  6. Rebecca Finley, sr. — With her twin sister in some foul trouble in the third quarter, Finley made the most of her time on the court with solid defense. She also grabbed six rebounds.

  7. E’lease Stafford, fr. — Stafford had some good moments, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds. But she also had some plays where she didn’t box out on free throws, which led to offensive rebounds for Highland Park.

  8. Gracie Reinsch, jr. — Reinsch played well off of the bench, scoring a point at the free throw line and grabbing two rebounds.

  9. Devon Spoonhunter, sr. — Spoonhunter didn’t make a shot, going 0 for 2 from the field, but she played solid defense in the low post, blocking one shot.

  10. Emma Bentzinger, jr. — The 5-foot-7 junior was aggressive off of the bench. She was on the court when the Lions were starting to make a comeback in the third quarter, and went hard after loose balls. She didn’t attempt any shots.

  11. Madison McKinney, so. — McKinney played a few minutes but didn’t record any stats besides a foul.

  12. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin entered in the final minute of the game after a few players fouled out.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Monday vs. Barstow (Mo.). Record: 2-10.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Sarah Coversup, sr. — With Madison Piper in foul trouble for most of the second half, the Firebirds leaned on Coversup for offense. She responded with a game-high 18 points, going 8 for 10 at the free throw line. Coversup also played some point guard down the stretch. She added four rebounds, two steals and a block.

  2. Madison Piper, so. — As mentioned above, Piper was in foul trouble throughout the game, playing nine minutes with four fouls. But credit to her for not picking up the fifth, and still making an impact on both sides of the court. She finished with a double-double: 12 points and 10 rebounds.

  3. Hannah Walter, jr. — I don’t remember Walter leaving the court in the second half, and it shows how valuable she was on both sides of the ball. She scored a season-high eight points, with six of them at the free throw line. Her other two points came on a putback to give the Firebirds a lead in the fourth quarter they would never give up. She also had seven rebounds and two assists, including one pass as she was falling out of bounds to Coversup for a layup.

  4. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — Jadlow didn’t have her shots falling on Saturday, but you couldn’t tell by the way she was grabbing rebounds. She had a game-high 12 boards to go along with two points, an assist and a steal. She also did a good job playing the passing lanes on defense, denying passes in the low post.

  5. Jaycie Bishop, so. — The 5-foot-5 sophomore stepped up with big plays when the Firebirds needed her. She scored seven points and played solid defense on the perimeter. When Free State was playing man-to-man defense, she guarded the Falcons’ top three-point shooter, and held her to 0 for 8 shooting behind the arc.

  6. Morgan Gantz, sr. — Gantz missed a three-pointer, her only shot, but she did a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score. She was the primary ball handler until she fouled out in the fourth quarter, and did a good job running the offense when she broke past the full-court press.

  7. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — Shoemaker provided a lift off of the bench, playing great help defense in the Firebirds’ 2-3 zone. She scored one point and grabbed three rebounds.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Tuesday at KC Schagle. Record: 10-2.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Lawrence High girls basketball wins, FSHS falls in day 2 of Firebird Winter Classic

After some close losses earlier this season, Lawrence High's girls basketball team wasn't going to let its latest chance just slip away.

When the pressure was turned up a little bit in the fourth quarter, the Lions answered with 14 straight points to put the game away and rip out a 45-31 victory over Wichita Northwest.

It was a weird game in that the Lions' lead always felt safe even when Northwest cut its deficit to within four points. But it'll be interesting to see how the Lions respond to their first win since early December with a game at 10:30 a.m. today and another one on Monday.

Free State High's girls basketball players were frustrated with their 35-34 loss to Hutchinson, but it should help them in the long run.

They struggled against the press without freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas, but hopefully they can develop some more ball handlers on the fly. It was also impressive to see that defense stayed strong, even when the Firebirds struggled to score in the second half. As the saying goes, you learn more from your losses than wins.

In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends and I'm bringing back the high school ratings for this basketball season. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Marissa Pope, sr. — Pope does a lot of things that don’t show up on the box score, such as providing strong ball security on offense and calling out defensive assignments. On Friday, she also showed up in the box score plenty with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. She had three turnovers, but got some of the possessions back with strong defense.

  2. Alexis Boyd, jr. — Boyd isn’t listed in the Firebird Winter Classic’s program, but she made a big impact on Friday. She scored 12 points and added six rebounds. She was shooting with confidence throughout the game, whether it was finding space in the paint or knocking down baseline jumpers.

  3. Skylar Drum, so. — The 5-foot-6 guard scored five points, but she played great defense on the perimeter and she always attacks the glass hard for rebounds. She had four boards and three assists.

  4. Olivia Lemus, so. — Lemus had trouble finding her shot on Friday, going 1 for 7 from behind the three-point arc. But that didn’t affect the rest of her game. She grabbed three rebounds and had two assists.

  5. E’lease Stafford, fr. — The 5-foot-10 freshman played with a little more poise than she did on Thursday. She scored on a layup late in the fourth quarter but added two rebounds and an assist.

  6. Matia Finley, sr. — She was limited in the first half because of foul trouble, but Finley scored on a putback in the fourth quarter and added four rebounds.

  7. Gracie Reinsch, jr. — Reinsch went 0 for 3 from the field, rushing a couple of shots, but she brought a lot of energy off of the bench. She grabbed three rebounds and played good defense.

  8. Devon Spoonhunter, jr. — The 5-foot-11 junior forward scored the Lions’ first two points of the game, dropping a shot over a couple of defenders in the low post.

  9. Madison McKinney, so. — McKinney had limited minutes on Friday, and she missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw.

  10. Rebecca Finley, sr. — Finley picked up a quick foul when she entered the game, trying to grab a rebound. She didn’t shoot the ball or record any stats.

  11. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin played a few minutes off of the bench but didn’t record any stats.

    — Next up: 10:30 a.m. today vs. Highland Park at Free State Winter Classic. Record: 2-9.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, so. — Piper scored nine of her 12 points in the first half, before Hutchinson did its best to keep her away from the ball. She did her best to fight through a few holds and even spent a little time as the team’s point guard. When the Firebirds needed a basket at the end of the game, they wanted the ball in her hands. She added four rebounds, an assist and two big blocks.

  2. Sarah Coversup, sr. — Coversup was dominant offensively in the first half, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. She made her first five shots from the field and at the free throw line. But Hutchinson’s full-court press didn’t allow her to make the same impact in the second half. Credit to her, she tried to help out a little at point guard, but had a few turnovers. She finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds to complete a double-double.

  3. Adriana Jadlow, sr. — Jadlow wasn’t as aggressive with her shot, but scored four points, all in the third quarter. She hit the boards hard, grabbing five rebounds, and she also added two assists and a steal. She did a nice job playing the passing lanes on defense tipping a few other passes.

  4. Jaycie Bishop, so. — Bishop missed her only shot, a three-pointer that hit the back of the iron. She also had two rebounds, and played solid defense against Hutchinson’s guards, never allowing them open looks for threes.

  5. Morgan Gantz, sr. — Gantz did her best against the Salthawks’ full-court press, but had a few turnovers. She missed a free throw, but grabbed a rebound and dished an assist to Piper in the second quarter for an open jump shot. She also played some strong defense on the perimeter.

  6. Hannah Shoemaker, sr. — She grabbed two rebounds, but didn’t attempt a shot.

  7. Hannah Walter, jr. — Walter always brings energy off of the bench on both sides of the ball. She had one rebound and didn’t attempt a shot.

    — Next up: 12:30 p.m. today vs. Wichita Heights at Firebird Winter Classic. Record: 9-2.

As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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