Posts tagged with Lawrence High

Lawrence High basketball sweeps SM South; Morgan and Stafford top player rankings

Lawrence High's boys basketball team preaches the next man up philosophy and lived up to it in its last few games.

If the Lions are missing one of their top players, that just means somebody else gets an opportunity to shine. Without senior point guard Justin Roberts, the Lions don't have the same offensive rhythm, but they continue to find ways to win, including a 49-42 victory against Shawnee Mission South on Friday.

"We’d much rather play with (Roberts), let’s cut to the chase," LHS coach Mike Lewis said. "But whether it’s Justin or Price (Morgan) or any of our starters, it just creates an opportunity for other kids to step up."

The Lions have played two games without Morgan, one without Jackson Mallory and 2 1/2 games without Roberts. Credit to them for winning at less than full strength.

Lawrence High's girls basketball team is playing its best basketball of the season, winning three of its last four games after a 62-27 rout over SM South.

For young teams, it can take time to learn how to win games, especially against older squads. The Lions had some close losses against top competition and they'll get another tough test against SM Northwest tonight. But if they keep gaining confidence, they're going to be an awfully dangerous team by the end of the year.


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. 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. E’lease Stafford, soph. — When Stafford is playing at her best, it’s no coincidence that the Lions are playing at their best as a team. She scored a game-high 15 points with nine rebounds, scoring on putbacks, drives into the paint and hitting a three.

  2. Chisom Ajekwu, fr. — Ajekwu had a game-high four blocks on Friday, but it looked like she affected a lot more shots with her defense in the paint. She completed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

  3. Hannah Stewart, fr. — Stewart has been steady all season but is growing into a better scorer in the past few weeks. She scored 11 points on Friday, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the first quarter. She added three rebounds and three assists with only one turnover.

  4. Talima Harjo, soph. — Ever since Harjo scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter against Olathe East, she’s played with a lot more confidence. Earning the starting nod with Skylar Drum out, Harjo had six points, 10 rebounds and five assists. In the first quarter, she scored or assisted on 11 of the team’s 16 points.

  5. Olivia Lemus, jr. — The 5-foot-3 sharpshooter found her rhythm from the perimeter and hit some big shots, scoring 13 points. She added five rebounds.

  6. Leslie Ostronic, fr. — One of those players that looks better on the court throughout each game this season. She scored two points at the free throw line and added two rebounds, an assist and two steals.

  7. Alexis Boyd, sr. — Boyd had a nice stretch in the third quarter, scoring in the low post and blocking a shot within a minute. She added two rebounds and an assist.

  8. Gracie Reinsch, sr. — She played hard in the final minutes, scoring four points including a putback in the last 10 seconds.

  9. Emma Bentzinger, sr. — Bentzinger played her usual solid defense in the post, denying passes. She had two rebounds and missed her only shot attempt.

  10. Sammy Williams, fr. — Entered in the fourth quarter and grabbed one rebound.

  11. Tyrin Cosey, soph. — Played in the final minutes and turned the ball over once. She made some nice plays at the end of the JV game, helping the Lions to a close win.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at #3 SM Northwest. Record: 7-7.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Price Morgan, sr. — With Justin Roberts out, the Lions are leaning on Morgan and he’s taken his game to another level. He was the best player on the court Friday, doing everything from scoring points to grabbing rebounds and diving on the court for loose balls. He completed a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

  2. Fred Brou, sr. — On one possession, Brou was boxed out by two players and still grabbed a rebound. He essentially ended the game with a two-handed slam and continues to play with high energy on the floor. He had 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.

  3. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Harvey sparked the Lions with a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter and a go-ahead three in the first minute of the fourth quarter. On a night where both teams struggled offensively, Harvey brought energy to both sides of the court. He had 11 points and three rebounds.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — Even when Mallory can’t get going offensively, he is great at not letting that slow down any other parts of his game. He had six points, three rebounds, three steals and an assist.

  5. Noah Butler, fr. — Butler couldn’t get his shots to drop (0-for-6), but that didn’t stop him from using his athleticism on defense. He matched up against SM South point guard CJ Hill, and did a good job of making him work for each bucket.

  6. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Lining up against two taller players, he used his strength to his advantage. He had three rebounds and a block, missing his only shot attempt.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko picked up the start with Roberts out, and he played good defense on the perimeter. He had one rebound and two steals, but missed two shots.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — He missed a three-pointer and grabbed one rebound.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Tuesday at SM Northwest. Record: 13-1.

Sunflower League boys basketball standings

Team … League … Overall

Lawrence … 5-0 … 13-1

Free State … 5-0 … 11-2

SM North … 5-0 … 10-4

Olathe South … 4-1 … 10-4

Olathe East … 3-2 … 11-3

SM West … 3-2 … 6-8

SM South … 2-3 … 7-7

Olathe North …1-4 … 9-5

SM Northwest … 1-4 … 6-8

SM East … 1-4 … 4-10

Olathe Northwest … 0-5 … 5-9

Leavenworth … 0-5 … 2-12

Sunflower League girls basketball standings

Team … League … Overall

Olathe South … 5-0 … 13-0

Olathe East … 5-0 … 12-2

Leavenworth … 4-1 … 10-4

SM West … 4-1 … 8-6

SM Northwest … 3-2 … 12-2

Free State … 3-2 … 10-4

SM North … 3-2 … 6-8

Lawrence … 1-4 … 7-7

SM South … 1-4 … 4-10

SM East … 1-4 … 3-11

Olathe Northwest … 0-5 … 6-8

Olathe North … 0-5 … 2-12


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

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Lawrence High boys hoops wins Topeka; Free State boys bounce back against Lansing

It's the Year of the Comeback in Lawrence this season.

Down 14 points with 4:05 remaining in the Topeka Invitational Tournament championship, Lawrence High's boys basketball team fought back to force overtime and eventually rip out a 62-61 victory against Highland Park.

On one hand, the improbable comeback was impressive considering they were playing without leading scorer and senior point guard Justin Roberts. But it was also a matchup between the Lions and Highland Park, which always produces dramatic games. The Lions beat Highland Park in December, picking up a 72-64 victory in OT in the Blue Valley Shootout.

In the past four seasons, the Lions own a 4-2 record against Highland Park, with three games separated by four points or less. That also includes a one-point win by LHS in the T.I.T. title game in 2013.

The Lions (12-1, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A) weren't at their best during the tournament, especially on offense without Roberts (dislocated shoulder Friday), but it's a credit to them that they were able to pull out three wins in three days.

Free State's boys basketball team, which already picked up a win when down by 18 in the fourth quarter, took second place at the McPherson Invitational over the weekend. Back home, the Firebirds won 66-53 against Lansing on Tuesday.

The Firebirds, who were unranked for too long, won't be underestimated by any teams for the rest of the season. They are ranked No. 6 in 6A, and they have so much depth that they usually can find somebody to step up for a big night.

Additionally, Free State's only two losses were in some of the toughest atmospheres for road teams: at Lawrence High and at McPherson (12-1, ranked No. 1 in 4A-I). The Firebirds (10-2) will have some tough games when their league schedule resumes, but they've proven they're one of the top teams in the state.

None by Journal-World HS


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. 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 boys basketball

  1. Price Morgan, sr. — The Lions needed somebody to step up with Roberts out, and Morgan filled that role. He scored a game-high 20 points, scoring in a variety of ways through layups, putbacks, mid-range jumpers and drives to the rim. Even after taking a big hit when jumping in the air for a pass and colliding with an opponent, Morgan was huge in the paint. He also had six rebounds, three assists and a block.

  2. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou saved some of his best basketball for the end of the tournament. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter and, of course, scored the game-winning on a tip-in at the buzzer in OT. Brou finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block.

  3. Noah Butler, fr. — As the season progresses, Butler continues to keep improving on the court. He made some huge plays in the final minutes of regulation, knocking down two threes and blocking a shot off of the backboard. He added a banked in layup in OT. Butler scored 13 points with three rebounds and two blocks.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — Mallory was sick throughout the weekend, but he estimated he was about 90 percent for the championship Saturday. Taking over the primary ball-handling duties for Roberts, he scored eight points with five rebounds and two assists. He’s one of those players that just makes all of his teammates better.

  5. Anthony Harvey, sr. — After scoring 18 points in the semifinals, Harvey couldn’t get his shot to drop Saturday. He scored three points — all at the free throw line. But he played solid defense and attacked the glass for five rebounds.

  6. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Buffalomeat does such a good job screening for his teammates, helping set up the offense. He scored two points, and nearly showed off his range with a three-point attempt. He added three rebounds and a block.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko missed a three, but provided his usual hard-nosed defense. He grabbed one rebound and had one assist.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — Miller didn’t attempt any shots but played good defense on the perimeter without fouling.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Feb. 5 vs. SM South. Record: 12-1.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Hunter Gudde, sr. — Gudde found his rhythm in the second quarter with six points in a two-minute stretch. He jumped passing lanes for three steals and was strong to the rim in transition. He scored a game-high 17 points with two rebounds, going 9-of-12 from the free throw line.

  2. Kristian Rawls, sr. — When Rawls goes into attack mode, he’s tough to stop. He scored eight points with a few drives through traffic. He added four rebounds and a steal, playing solid defense on the perimeter.

  3. Cameron Clark, jr. — Clark nearly finished with a double-double, recording eight points and eight rebounds off of the bench. He played well in the post and did a good job setting up screens for his teammates on offense.

  4. Drew Tochtrop, sr. — The Firebirds needed a boost on offense in the first quarter and Tochtrop stepped up. First it was a nice drive to the rim, banking in a bucket. Then he added a three in transition. An all-tournament selection at McPherson last weekend, Tochtrop had seven points and a steal before exiting in the third quarter because of a knee injury.

  5. Jacob Pavlyak, jr. — Matched up against Lansing’s top scorer, Sam Lorenzen, Pavlyak did his best to make his shots difficult in the second half. Lorenzen still hit a couple of threes, but Pavlyak prevented any further damage. He scored six points and had three rebounds.

  6. Shannon Cordes, jr. — In the second quarter, Cordes caught fire and helped the Firebirds to an 11-point lead. He scored eight straight points, knocking down a pair of threes and two free throws on a nice drive to the rim. He added two steals.

  7. Sloan Thomsen, jr. — Thomsen only took one shot, missing a three, but he was engaged on the defensive end and grabbed four rebounds.

  8. Chrision Wilburn, sr. — Wilburn battled some foul trouble in the first half, but he scored five points, grabbed two steals and had one rebound.

  9. Darian Lewis, sr. — Always in the right spot to make plays, Lewis grabbed three rebounds and assisted on a layup in the fourth quarter. He scored on a putback in the first quarter.

  10. Jay Dineen, jr. — Dineen brought his usual energy. He scored on a layup-and-the-foul bucket in the third quarter, receiving a nice hi-lo pass, and he grabbed three rebounds.

  11. Simon McCaffrey, soph. — He looks like he’s becoming more confident on the court. He missed on his only shot attempt but assisted on a three to Cordes.

  12. Reece White-Downing, soph. — Entered in the fourth quarter and knocked down three of his four free throws in the final minute.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Feb. 5 vs. SM Northwest. Record: 10-2.

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

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Lawrence High splits against Olathe East; Free State boys win in triple OT

If there was ever a game that brought a playoff atmosphere to the regular season, look no further than Lawrence High on Friday against Olathe East.

The Lions were eliminated by the Hawks in 2014 during the sub-state title game, and both schools were in the Class 6A state semifinals last season. With a fired up crowd, the Lions picked up one of their biggest wins of the season with a 69-61 victory.

The Hawks were missing two key starters, but it was a big momentum boost for the Lions heading into the Topeka Invitational Tournament this week.

For Lawrence High's girls basketball team, I made the point last year — and it applies again — no team in the state has a tougher schedule in the first two weeks back from winter break. In the team's first four Sunflower League games, LHS opponents have a combined 15-1 record in the league and 30-6 overall.

The Lions were encouraged by their 44-43 loss to Olathe East, and they hope it'll turn into momentum for the rest of the season. It was a big game for sophomore Talima Harjo, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter, leading the charge for a comeback.

The Lions need reliable scoring options outside of junior Olivia Lemus and sophomore E'lease Stafford, so Harjo's play would make the Lions a lot more dangerous.

On the other side of town, it's hard to win games in more dramatic fashion than Free State's boys basketball team over the weekend. On Friday, the Firebirds fought back from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 69-68 win at Olathe Northwest. The next afternoon, they picked up a 83-81 win in triple overtime against Lee's Summit North.

When things are going well, sometimes the ball just rolls your way. The Firebirds benefitted form some missed free throws in their big comeback and a missed layup in OT against Lee's Summit North.

The only team I didn't see over the weekend was Free State's girls basketball team, which picked up a 65-44 victory over Olathe Northwest, a nice bounce back after a loss against Leavenworth.


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. 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. Olivia Lemus, jr. — It seems like whenever the Lions need a big bucket, Lemus finds a way to deliver. She scored a team-high 12 points, knocking down two threes in the third quarter. She was active on the glass and defensively, grabbing five rebounds and winning the races to loose balls.

  2. Talima Harjo, soph. — In the fourth quarter, it turned into the Harjo show. She scored eight straight points for the Lions, tying the game with 1:39 left. She hit a baseline jumper and threes from opposite sides of the arc. After her offensive explosion, she forced a turnover on defense with a deflection. She had 11 points and a steal.

  3. Skylar Drum, jr. — It’s not easy to score on Drum. She uses her athleticism to play defense in the post and on the perimeter. She held O-East’s Caroline Hoppock (15 points) scoreless in the second half. Drum added six points and five rebounds.

  4. E’lease Stafford, soph. — Stafford didn’t have her shot dropping, but she showed assertiveness by calling for the ball on offense. She had seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

  5. Chisom Ajekwu, fr. — Ajekwu didn’t have her best offensive night, going 0-for-4 from the field, but defensively she was strong in the post. The 6-3 freshman had four rebounds and three blocks.

  6. Hannah Stewart, fr. — Stewart is starting to play with more confidence. She tied the game in the fourth quarter with a teardrop floater down the middle of the lane. The freshman had five points, one rebound, one steal and one assist.

  7. Leslie Ostronic, fr. — Ostronic missed her only shot attempt, but she played solid defense and was reliable with the ball. She had two rebounds and a steal.

  8. Alexis Boyd, sr. — Boyd went 1-for-4 from the floor, scoring in the second quarter on a turnaround jumper.

  9. Emma Bentzinger, sr. — Bentzinger played good defense on the court, actively denying passes, but she missed her only shot attempt.

    — Next up: Jan. 28 at Topeka Tournament. Record: 4-6.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, sr. — Roberts has been known for his clutch plays over the years and Friday was just another chapter. He gave the Lions a lead with under a minute left when he was fouled on a three-point attempt, then stole an inbounds pass which turned into a layup for Price Morgan. Roberts had a team-high 24 points with three rebounds, four assists and three steals.

  2. Price Morgan, sr. — The recent Air Force football commit showed off his potential on the basketball court. He scored 17 points with four rebounds and two assists. He was huge in the third quarter when the Lions couldn’t find a rhythm on offense, getting to the free throw line and scoring on a layup-and-the-foul bucket.

  3. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou had one of his toughest defensive assignments of the year, trying to slow down Olathe East senior Josiah Talbert. He avoided giving Talbert any layups, but couldn’t prevent his hot shooting. Offensively, Brou had six points and five rebounds, including two dunks. He also had a great assist to Morgan in the final minute, giving the Lions a crucial two-possession lead.

  4. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Harvey stepped up with some big shots, scoring six points in the fourth quarter. Early in the final period, he was fouled on a three-point attempt, giving the Lions a lead, then raced past defenders for a layup less than a minute later. He finished with 11 points.

  5. Jackson Mallory, jr. — He dealt with a little bit of foul trouble and hit shots weren’t falling, and Mallory still found a way to make a big impact. He had five points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal. His best stretch in the fourth quarter was a full-court pass to Harvey for a layup, then two possessions later, he hit a three from the right wing.

  6. Noah Butler, fr. — Butler provided a nice spark off of the bench. He used his athleticism for a nice dunk in the second quarter and he grabbed a rebound and a steal.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — As usual, Solko played solid defense on the perimeter, limiting drives past him. He scored on layup in the second quarter and grabbed a rebound.

    — Next up: 3:15 p.m. Thursday vs. Wichita Northwest in Topeka Invitational Tournament. Record: 9-1.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Hunter Gudde, sr. — He scored 12 of his team-high 23 points in the three overtime sessions, giving the Firebirds a big boost offensively. He sat out all but two minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, and once he returned to the court he found his rhythm. He added four rebounds, a block and a steal.

  2. Sloan Thomsen, jr. — In the first half with Free State’s two leading scorers on the bench, Thomsen stepped up with some big baskets. He knocked down three triples in the first quarter, and he scored on a putback in the second quarter. The 6-foot-5 wing also had a team-high six rebounds and three assists.

  3. Kristian Rawls, sr. — Rawls knows how to play well under pressure. With 1:36 left in regulation, he knocked down two game-tying free throws. Once again down by two, he scored on a running shot in the middle of the paint before the buzzer to send the game into OT. He scored 14 points with four assists before fouling out in third OT.

  4. Jacob Pavlyak, jr. — Free State’s top defensive specialist grabbed a steal on an inbounds pass with 30 seconds left in the third OT, giving the Firebirds the ball for their game-winning possession. Pavlyak only had two points but his impact on defense was huge. He also had four assists.

  5. Darian Lewis, sr. — Off of the bench, Lewis had seven points and five rebounds, including a game-tying three-pointer in the third OT.

    “Darian hasn’t hit in a three in practice in two years,” FSHS coach Sam Stroh joked. “But he made a play. Someone has to step up and make a play. I trust the bench. Darian is the example and epitome of a team guy. Never complains about playing time. Busts his rear when he gets in there. That’s what we’re all about.”

  6. Shannon Cordes, jr. — Cordes scored 11 points, no shot bigger than his game-tying three-pointer in the first OT. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on shots inside of the arc, and he had one rebound.

  7. Cameron Clark, jr. — Clark was tasked with guarding Lee Summit’s North top post player in the final minutes of regulation and he did a good job of not allowing him to catch and turn for layups. Clark had six points and four rebounds before fouling out in the second OT.

  8. Chrision Wilburn, sr. — Plagued by foul trouble all game, Wilburn didn’t spend many minutes on the court. He scored two points and had three rebounds.

  9. Drew Tochtrop, sr. — Tochtrop turned a nightmare game into a dream ending. He scored the game-winning layup with less than two seconds left in the third overtime, making a nice play after receiving the ball from Gudde after missing his first three shot attempts.

    “I was hoping (Gudde) would pass it to me,” Tochtrop said. “But then he passed by me, and I was like, ‘Oh, he didn’t see me.’ Then he just threw it behind his head and somehow it got to me. It was a pretty easy layup from there.”

  10. Jalan Robinson, soph. — Playing in his second varsity game, Robinson scored on a layup in the second quarter.

  11. Garrett Luinstra, soph. — In the final minutes after Rawls fouled out, Luinstra took over at point guard. He didn’t take any shots but he grabbed a rebound.

  12. Simon McCaffrey, soph. — He had a nice assist on an inbounds pass to Lewis in the fourth quarter, and he missed two three-point attempts.

    — Next up: 3:45 p.m. Thursday vs. Wichita North in McPherson Tournament. Record: 7-1.

Sunflower League boys basketball standings

Team … League … Overall

Lawrence … 4-0 … 9-1

Free State … 4-0 … 7-1

SM North … 4-0 … 6-3

Olathe East … 3-1 … 7-2

Olathe South … 3-1 … 7-2

SM South … 2-2 … 5-4

SM West … 2-2 … 3-5

Olathe North …1-3 … 5-4

SM Northwest … 1-3 … 4-4

Olathe Northwest … 0-4 … 3-6

Leavenworth … 0-4 … 1-7

SM East … 0-4 … 1-8

Sunflower League girls basketball standings

Team … League … Overall

Olathe South … 4-0 … 9-0

Leavenworth … 4-0 … 8-1

Olathe East … 4-0 … 8-1

Free State … 3-1 … 6-2

SM North … 3-1 … 5-3

SM West … 3-1 … 5-4

SM Northwest … 2-2 … 7-2

SM South … 1-3 … 1-6

Lawrence … 0-4 … 4-6

Olathe North … 0-4 … 2-5

Olathe Northwest … 0-4 … 4-5

SM East … 0-4 … 0-7


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

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Lawrence High basketball splits against Leavenworth; Roberts and Lemus top player rankings

It's hard to know what to expect out of high school basketball teams in their first games back from winter break. For Lawrence High, 18 days between games is a long time and it can be tough to find a rhythm right away.

But Lawrence High's boys basketball team made it look easy. The Lions scored 26 points in the first quarter and rolled to a 63-42 victory at Leavenworth.

The Lions scored on seven straight possessions in the final 2:10 of the quarter with good ball movement against a zone defense and knocking down open shots. LHS senior point guard Justin Roberts hit three triples during that stretch, finishing with 17 points in the first quarter.

"Everybody was hitting shots, getting boards, running well," LHS senior Price Morgan said. "We got a little impatient when they went to the zone at first, but we figured it out. It was a pretty good quarter."

Lawrence High's girls basketball team had problems against Leavenworth's full-court press and lost 53-32 to Leavenworth.

With a group of young guards, it's tough to come back from winter break and face such a physical team. The Pioneers (ranked No. 2 in Class 5A) also had a chance to play in a game a few days earlier, so there was no rust from winter break.

It doesn't get any easier for the Lions, who will face Olathe South (ranked No. 2 in Class 6A) on Friday. Their biggest challenge will be trying to play at their own speed and not letting quick teams speed them up.


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. 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. Olivia Lemus, jr. — Playing off of the ball, Lemus hit some big shots, going 3-for-3 from behind the arc. She scored a team-high 10 points and provided good energy by chasing down loose balls and grabbing six rebounds.

  2. Chisom Ajekwu, fr. — The 6-foot-3 freshman played well defensively, affecting plenty of shots in the paint. She grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. On offense, she had a tougher time, scoring seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.

  3. Talima Harjo, soph. — In the starting lineup, Harjo played solid defense on the perimeter by jumping passing lanes and preventing easy drives to the rim. Harjo snagged three steals and scored five points in the second half.

  4. Alexis Boyd, sr. — Boyd played a little sped up but helped the Lions in the paint with four points and five rebounds.

  5. E’lease Stafford, soph. — The Pioneers focused on Stafford and didn’t let her make her usual impact on the court. Stafford had some problems with turnovers, but scored three points and had a team-high four assists.

  6. Hannah Stewart, fr. — For a freshman, it’s never easy going against Leavenworth’s quick and physical full-court press. Stewart had a couple of turnovers, but was reliable with the ball and was aggressive on drives to the rim. She had three points and three rebounds.

  7. Leslie Ostronic, fr. — She didn’t attempt any shots, but assisted on a three-pointer in the second quarter and grabbed a steal.

  8. Emma Bentzinger, sr. — Bentzinger missed both of her shot attempts, but dished two assists by making good passes on inbounds plays.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday at Olathe South. Record: 4-3.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, sr. — A few minutes into his first game back from winter break, Roberts drilled a three-pointer from the wing. Then another. And another. And another. And one more. The point guard scored a ridiculous 17 points in the first quarter, finishing with a game-high 23. He added four rebounds and two assists.

  2. Price Morgan, sr. — Usually Morgan is matched up against the tallest players from opposing teams in the paint, but for at least one game, Morgan was the big man in the post. He had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. In the second half, he blocked a shot into the stands, making full use of his size advantage.

  3. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou was fired up from the opening jump ball and it showed when he scored on a layup on the team’s first possession. Brou, who was the tallest player on the court for most of the contest, had 11 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. The better he plays, the more dangerous the Lions become.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — Mallory made his first shot, grabbing a steal and scoring in the paint. He missed his final seven shots, but he still was strong in every other phase of the game. He played solid defense, grabbed seven rebounds and three steals.

  5. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Despite a few open looks, Harvey couldn’t get his shot to drop from deep (1-for-6 for three). That didn’t stop him from playing well in other areas, scoring seven points with a few drives to the rim. He added a rebound and a steal.

  6. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko missed on two shots from behind the three-point line, but was active on defense and grabbed two rebounds. On one play, Solko turned the ball over and sprinted back on defense to prevent an easy layup, forcing a turnover.

  7. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Buffalomeat knocked down a jumper in the second quarter off an inbounds pass. He added three rebounds.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — With extended playing time, Miller grabbed two steals and assisted on a layup-and-the-foul bucket by Morgan. He scored two points at the free throw line.

  9. Tayvien Robinson, sr. — Robinson knocked down two free throws with 35 seconds left, and missed on a shot at the buzzer. He also had one rebound.

  10. Dante’ Jackson, soph. — Jackson grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed three-pointer and missed on a shot from deep.

  11. Noah Butler, fr. — Grabbed a defensive rebound in the final minute.

  12. Trey Quartlebaum, fr. — Missed on his only shot attempt from behind the arc.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday at Olathe South. Record: 6-1.

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

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Lions sweep City Showdown; guards mostly top player rankings

At this point of the high school basketball season, wins and losses don't mean a ton. But a win in the City Showdown meant everything for Lawrence High's girls basketball team.

The Lions picked up one of their biggest wins in the past few seasons with a 49-48 victory against Free State on Friday at LHS. It ended a 12-game losing streak to the Firebirds, and tossed the proverbial monkey off of their back.

For a young LHS team, it's a confidence boost that could be crucial going into winter break and into Sunflower League play. The losing streak never bothered the Lions, but I think it was validation that their hard work was paying off with a signature win against a top ranked team in the state.

For the Firebirds, it was a tough way to head into winter break, but they have plenty of talent and have to be considered contenders at the top of the league. They shot 29 percent from the field and only lost by a point. The biggest key will be finding consistent No. 2 and No. 3 scorers behind junior Madison Piper.

Lawrence High's boys basketball team rolled to a 79-65 victory over Free State at LHS. The Lions had all of the momentum in the second half, drilling shots and grabbing 50-50 balls.

It's impressive how well some of the new starters (Fred Brou, Anthony Harvey and Jackson Mallory) have played for the Lions, stepping into a much bigger role after coming off of the bench last year. I think the Lions have to be thrilled to end their December schedule with a 5-1 record after playing some quality teams.

The Firebirds showed a ton of poise in the first half, taking a six-point halftime lead in a raucous environment on the road. The ball didn't roll their way in the second half, but that's not an easy game to play in just your third game of the season. It'll be fun to see how this team improves after winter break.

Free State senior Chrision Wilburn, left, defends Lawrence High senior Justin Roberts, right, while Roberts eyes the basket during their game Friday evening at LHS.

Free State senior Chrision Wilburn, left, defends Lawrence High senior Justin Roberts, right, while Roberts eyes the basket during their game Friday evening at LHS. by John Young


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. 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. Jaelyn Two Hearts, soph. — The Firebirds needed some offense and Two Hearts stepped up and knocked down big shots. At the end of the first half, Two Hearts scored eight points in a two-minute stretch, draining a pair of threes. In the final seconds, she did a good job of creating space for a potential game-winning shot. She added five rebounds and a steal.

  2. Madison Piper, jr. — The Lions focused on stopping Piper and she was held to 10 points. But even on an off night shooting the ball (3-for-16), that didn’t stop her from making a big impact. She nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds, to go along with four assists, two blocks and some great defensive plays in the second half.

  3. Cameryn Thomas, soph. — Thomas only recorded one steal, but she was a huge reason the Lions had 19 turnovers because of her full-court pressure. The 5-foot-7 point guard added six points and five boards, including a key rebound with under 30 seconds left on a missed free throw.

  4. Hannah Walter, sr. — When the Firebirds struggled to create offense in the first quarter, Walter stepped up with a free throw and a layup. She ended up with seven points, five rebounds and two steals.

  5. Caiti Schlesener, sr. — The senior transfer from Topeka Cornerstone just knows how to step up in crunch time. In the fourth quarter, Schlesener hit a huge three-pointer with 1:02 left, cutting the Firebirds’ deficit to one point. She finished with nine points and three steals.

  6. Peyton Brown, sr. — Brown had a tough defensive assignment in the first half, guarding the 6-3 Ajekwu, but that didn’t stop her from grabbing tough rebounds. Brown had five boards and assisted on a three-pointer by Two Hearts.

  7. Jaycie Bishop, jr. — Drained a huge three-pointer in the third quarter after the Lions went on a 5-0 run to tie the game. Bishop added a steal in the first quarter.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at SM East. Record: 3-1.

Free State boys basketball

  1. Chrision Wilburn, sr. — Wilburn had a tough matchup, lining up against some athletic forwards. But he held his own, scoring 13 points with five rebounds and two assists. He scored an and-one in the first quarter and hit a nice jumper to open the second half.

  2. Hunter Gudde, sr. — The 6-foot-2 senior did a good job in the third quarter earning trips to the free throw line with strong drives to the rim. He also had a nice coast-to-coast layup in the fourth quarter. He scored 13 points and added five rebounds.

  3. Sloan Thomsen, jr. — Thomsen carried the Firebirds in the second quarter, scoring nine points. Usually known as a sharpshooter, he dominated with putbacks, doing a good job of reading misses off of the rim. He had 12 points and five rebounds.

  4. Jay Dineen, jr. — Dineen brought a ton of energy off of the bench for the Firebirds, making plays on both sides of the court. He scored nine points, including a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter on a wild sequence with a few turnovers by both squads. He added four rebounds and a block.

  5. Kristian Rawls, sr. — In the fourth quarter, Rawls did his best to keep his team in the game with free throws and a layup on back-to-back possessions. He just didn’t have many driving lanes throughout the night, finishing with seven points and two rebounds.

  6. Jacob Pavylak, jr. — Pavlyak played well defensively in the first half, preventing drives to the rim. He had three points, scoring the first FSHS points of the game. He also had a steal and an assist.

  7. Drew Tochtrop, sr. — A versatile defender, Tochtrop didn’t attempt any shots but played solid defense in the paint and on the perimeter. He had a rebound, assist and a steal.

  8. Shannon Cordes, jr. — Cordes drilled a three-pointer during the second quarter, shooting 1-for-5 from the field.

  9. Simon McCaffrey, soph. — Playing in his first City Showdown, McCaffrey scored on a layup in the third quarter and he missed a three-pointer. He also assisted on a bucket by Cordes.

  10. Darian Lewis, sr. — Lewis missed his only shot attempt, but he grabbed two rebounds.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at SM East. Record: 2-1.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Skylar Drum, jr. — Drum was tasked with her toughest defensive assignment of the season and she used her athleticism to slow down Madison Piper, last year’s Sunflower League Player of the Year. On offense, Drum drained a clutch jumper to give the Lions a lead in the fourth quarter. She had six points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal.

  2. Chisom Ajekwu, fr. — Nobody was more dominant in the first half. Ajekwu used her 6-foot-3 length to score on putbacks in the paint. She completed a double-double by halftime and finished with a team-high 12 points and 16 rebounds. The Firebirds denied her the ball in the post in the second half, but Ajekwu cleaned up the glass in the final minute, grabbing two key rebounds on Free State missed shots.

  3. E’lease Stafford, soph. — In the fourth quarter, playing with four fouls, Stafford carried the Lions on offense. She gave them the lead for good on a putback and she made two free throws after a nice drive to the rim. She ended up with 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

  4. Alexis Boyd, sr. — It looked the like the wheels were going to fall off for the Lions in the third quarter when Stafford went to the bench in foul trouble and they had a few turnovers on offense. Then Boyd stepped up with five straight points, using her height in the post to make baskets from close range.

  5. Olivia Lemus, jr. — Lemus didn’t have her best night shooting the ball, but she’s never scared to pull the trigger when she finds space behind the three-point line. Lemus knocked down some huge shots in the second half, giving the Lions momentum. She had 10 points, three assists and two steals.

  6. Hannah Stewart, fr. — Against a full-court press for most of the night, Stewart was poised in her first City Showdown. She had a couple of turnovers, but she didn’t let that affect her. Stewart scored two points and grabbed three rebounds.

  7. Gracie Reinsch, sr. — Reinsch recorded all of her stats on one offensive possession, missing a layup, but scoring on the putback. She always brings good energy for the Lions when she’s on the court.

  8. Talima Harjo, soph. — When Drum needed some rest on the bench, Harjo guarded Piper and did a good job of running through screens. She missed two shots, but grabbed a rebound.

  9. Leslie Ostronic, fr. — Ostronic didn’t attempt any shots, but grabbed two rebounds off of the bench.

  10. Emma Bentzinger, sr. — Bentzinger does a solid job of denying passes in the post. She missed her only shot attempt.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at Leavenworth. Record: 4-2.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, sr. — The bigger the game, the better Roberts usually plays. He was in rhythm offensively, scoring a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including eight points in a 14-1 run in the third quarter and an assist on a dunk by Fred Brou. Roberts had three rebounds and two assists.

  2. Price Morgan, sr. — Morgan picked up his second foul with more than three minutes left in the first quarter. He sat for a long stretch, but credit to him for staying in rhythm when he returned to the court. He scored nine points in the third quarter, taking defenders off of the dribble or posting up in the low post. He finished with 20 points and four rebounds.

  3. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou was amped in the first few minutes, skying high for rebounds but missing his first three shots. Once he settled in, he was a dominant force. He scored five of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a one-handed slam that likely closed the door on any comeback attempt with three minutes left. He completed a double-double with 10 rebounds and made some nice passes, dishing three assists.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — When the Lions are playing at their best, Mallory is usually a big reason behind it. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but he has great vision and sets his teammates up for easy baskets, and he plays solid defense. Mallory had five points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

  5. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Harvey just knows how to hit big shots during key moments. He drilled a pair of three-pointers and he opened the fourth quarter with a nice drive down the lane for a layup. He added four rebounds.

  6. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Buffalomeat is only becoming more comfortable on the defensive end. He had a big block on a layup attempt in the second quarter, wshihc quickly turned into a layup for Roberts. Buffalomeat had four points and a rebound.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko played solid defense on the perimeter, grabbing a steal in the second quarter. He added a layup near the end of the first quarter, assisted from Mallory.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — Missed a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter, his only shot attempt.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at Leavenworth. Record: 5-1.

    Free State junior Madison Piper (14 ) lines up a three point shot over Lawrence High junior Skylar Drum (3) during their game Friday evening at LHS.

    Free State junior Madison Piper (14 ) lines up a three point shot over Lawrence High junior Skylar Drum (3) during their game Friday evening at LHS. by John Young


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

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LHS basketball sweeps before City Showdown

With a rivalry game looming on the schedule, it's usually easier said than done to focus on your next opponent and avoid overlooking anybody before the rivalry game arrives.

But Lawrence High boys and girls basketball teams found ways to pick up wins this week before heading into tonight's City Showdown at LHS.

The LHS boys weren't at their sharpest, but found a way to step up on defense in a 62-59 victory over Lee's Summit West in the Hy-Vee Shootout at Avila University.

The Lions played a 2-3 zone in a few games this season, and it's been pretty effective against teams with athletic guards.

"Knock on wood, but all the times we’ve done that it’s been real helpful for us," LHS senior guard Anthony Harvey said of the zone. "Everybody talks and that’s the biggest thing: nobody is too cool to put their hands up and talk. We’re a nitty, gritty this year and we’re just trying to get on the floor, get loose balls and get open for layups."

Lawrence High's girls basketball team won in blowouts this week, defeating Topeka West, 50-24, on Monday, and going on the road to rout KC Wyandotte, 87-12.

After a 19-point loss last week, the Lions have really responded with two strong games. Even against lesser competition, credit to the Lions for still playing their game and not playing down to the competition.

Now for the City Showdown, it should be a great night for basketball. Every team is entering Friday with wins in their last game. It'll also be the first home doubleheader for the Lions, so it should be a fun atmosphere.


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. 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 (Monday)

  1. E’lease Stafford, soph. — Stafford has an ability to score in bunches. In the third quarter, she scored five points on back-to-back possessions, then later assisted on a bucket. She scored a game-high 12 points and grabbed three steals on the perimeter.

  2. Olivia Lemus, jr. — Known as a sharpshooter, Lemus couldn’t get her shot to drop on Monday, but she didn’t let that affect her defense. Lemus grabbed three steals and three rebounds, helping the Lions run into transition offense. She added six points.

  3. Chisom Ajekwu, fr. — Ajekwu is still developing on the offensive end of the court, but she finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. The 6-foot-3 freshman added four rebounds and a blocked shot.

  4. Skylar Drum, jr. — Drum is one of those guards that has no problem crashing the glass for rebounds. She was great at it last year, and Monday was no different, grabbing five boards. She added four points and a steal.

  5. Gracie Reinsch, sr. — In the second quarter of a blowout win, Reinsch missed a shot on the offensive end and Topeka West hurried the ball down the court. When it looked like the Chargers were going to get an open layup out of it, Reinsch jumped up and swatted the attempt to her teammate. Incredible hustle play. Reinsch had four points and four rebounds.

  6. Alexis Boyd, sr. — Off of the bench, Boyd provided a lift in the paint with her ability to score on putbacks. Boyd had six points, two rebounds and three steals, jumping passing lanes on passes in the paint.

  7. Hannah Stewart, fr. — Only a freshman, Stewart plays with a lot of poise on the perimeter. She scored four points and had three rebounds with some solid defense.

  8. Talima Harjo, soph. — Harjo did a little bit of everything on Monday. She grabbed three rebounds, dished two assists and snagged two steals. The sophomore added a layup in the final seconds.

  9. Emma Bentzinger, sr. — Bentzinger went scoreless, missing two shots, but she really defended well in the post. She denied a few passes and grabbed one steal. Bentzinger added a rebound and an assist.

  10. Leslie Ostronic, fr. — The 5-4 freshman drilled a baseline jumper at the end of the third quarter and added a bucket in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

  11. Asia Goodwin, so. — Goodwin entered in the second half and had three offensive rebounds, but she missed a few putbacks.

  12. Sammy Williams, fr. — Played for most of the fourth quarter. She missed her only shot attempt but grabbed two rebounds.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday vs. Free State. Record: 3-2.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Anthony Harvey, sr. — When the Lions needed a lift in the third quarter, Harvey made a big splash with eight of his game-high 18 points. An emotional leader on the court, Harvey was active defensively with two steals and he dished six assists. Credit to him, when his jump shot wasn’t falling, for finding ways into the lane for layups and floaters.

  2. Justin Roberts, sr. — Roberts had a number of shots that somehow spun off of the rim. He scored 14 points, but was probably even stronger defensively, finding ways to tip passes. With 45 seconds remaining and a four-point lead, Roberts knocked away a pump-fake on the defensive end, and dove to tip the ball to Harvey. Any chance of a Lee’s Summit West comeback likely ended there.

  3. Price Morgan, sr. — In the second half, Morgan matched up against LSW senior Dusty Stroup, who scored 15 points in the first half. In the final 16 minutes, Stroup only had three points and Morgan’s defense was a big reason. Morgan added 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — Once again, Mallory did a little bit of everything to help the Lions win. He only attempted three shots, but he set his teammates up in great spots, ending up with six assists and six points. On defense, he added a team-high three steals, doing a good job of putting his hand in passing lanes.

  5. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — With Fred Brou on the bench for big chunks of the second half because of foul trouble, Buffalomeat stepped up with some big rebounds and blocks on the defensive end. He had six points, five rebounds, two blocks and two assists.

    “He can step up and make some plays,” Morgan said of Buffalomeat. “He’s working hard in practice. He wants to get better and that’s the big thing. I think tonight was just a little taste for him to keep working his butt off every single day.”

  6. Fred Brou, sr. — The 6-foot-5 forward was electric in the first half, drawing a charge and dunking for the team’s first points. Brou played excellent defense against LSW’s 6-foot-7 center, but he ran into foul trouble in the second half and fouled out with 2:22 left. He finished with six points and four boards.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko is just one of those players who knows where to be at the right time. He grabbed two steals, preventing a layup on one of them when he just walked into the paint when the pass was arriving. He missed his only shot attempt but grabbed two rebounds.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — Miller played for a couple of minutes and missed his only shot attempt.

  9. Tayvien Robinson, sr. — Played for a minute in the second quarter, but did not record any stats.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Free State. Record: 4-1.

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

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LHS boys basketball advances to BV Shootout title game

It never fails year after year. Lawrence High's boys basketball team locked in another close game against Topeka Highland Park.

The two schools have faced each other five times over the past four seasons, and the latest chapter was another memorable contest, with the Lions winning 72-64 in overtime to advance to the Blue Valley Shootout championship game.

One of the big reasons the Lions have a chance to repeat as champions in the BV Shootout is the remarkable play by senior point guard Justin Roberts. Only eight months removed from tearing a ligament in his left knee, Roberts has averaged 25 points per game, including scoring a career-high 32 points on Thursday.

"He’s just such a warrior," LHS coach Mike Lewis said of Roberts. "The game plan is definitely not to ride him that hard, but he didn’t want to come out of the game. He and I have built that relationship where he can communicate that with that, just with the knee situation."

With Highland Park's defense focusing on Roberts in the fourth quarter and overtime, the Lions had a balanced attack in the fourth quarter and overtime, needing every player on the floor to step up in key moments to pull out a semifinal victory.

"It’s hard as a team to keep your composure, and I thought our guys did a pretty nice job of that, especially as tired as you get mentally and physically," Lewis said. "Just a real hard fought effort and we’re used to that with Highland Park."


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. 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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, sr. — There’s good starts to the season, then there’s what Roberts has done in the first three games. He scored a career-high 32 points Thursday on 8-of-18 shooting, the first 30-point game by a LHS player since Anthony Bonner did it in the BV Shootout semifinals in 2013. But he also played great defense on the perimeter, drawing a couple of offensive fouls and a huge five-second call at the end of regulation.

  2. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou is one of those players who becomes more dangerous when he plays with more confidence. Playing without fellow forward Price Morgan, Brou scored the first seven LHS points and Lions’ coach Mike Lewis couldn’t remember if he ever took him off the court because of his energy. Brou ended up with 16 points and nine rebounds.

  3. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Harvey is known as a sharpshooter, but he stepped up in other ways during crunch time. In the last four minutes of regulation and overtime, Harvey scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and dished an assist. He finished with seven points and seven boards.

  4. Jackson Mallory, jr. — Mallory hit some big shots in the fourth quarter, scoring five points during a 12-0 run and tying the game in the final minute with a made free throw. He fouled out with 2:28 left in overtime, but he was strong defensively with three steals.

  5. Braden Solko, jr. — The more you watch Solko, the more you realize how much he contributes on the defensive end. He grabbed four rebounds and a steal, and took a charge in the fourth quarter. Lewis said he thought Solko “really, really scrapped and played tough.”

  6. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Buffalomeat filled in well for Morgan, scoring four points, including a layup for a three-point lead in overtime. He added four rebounds and two blocks, helping the Lions defend the paint with his size.

  7. Austin Miller, jr. — Miller didn’t attempt a shot, but he provided good defense when he stepped on the court, especially at the end of the first half when the Lions had a few guys in foul trouble.

  8. Noah Butler, fr. — The 6-foot-2 freshman scored his first varsity points in the second quarter, scoring on a putback. He finished with two points, two rebounds and three fouls.

    — Next up: 8:30 p.m. Friday vs. Lee’s Summit at Blue Valley Shootout. Record: 3-0.

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

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LHS advances at BV Shootout; Roberts leads player ratings

Unlike the first game of the season for Lawrence High's boys basketball team, not much went right in the first few minutes on Tuesday against Grandview (Mo.) in the first round of the Blue Valley Shootout.

The Bulldogs couldn't miss from the field, drilling their first four shots. And the Lions, they struggled shooting and they had problems with turnovers.

But even with a slow start that helped Grandview take a 12-point lead in the second quarter, the Lions never panicked and eventually climbed their way to a 62-50 victory.

The Lions only returned two starters from last season's state runner-up squad, and two more players that received regular minutes in the rotation. So credit the Lions for passing their first tough test and finding a way to win when they weren't playing at their best.

"It showed that we can handle a little adversity," LHS coach Mike Lewis. "We listened to some coaching and we just dug in, and did what we needed to get back into the game. Then that momentum shifted and we were pretty solid for the last five, six minutes."


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. 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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, sr. — Roberts knows how to take over games in the fourth quarter, and he did it again on Tuesday. He scored 14 of his team’s first 17 points in the fourth quarter, leading the charge on the Lions’ comeback win. His shot wasn’t dropping in the first half, but he did a good job finding his way to the free throw line and putting his teammates in good positions to score.

  2. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou admitted he nervous in the first game, stepping into a much bigger role this season. He was aggressive and played smart on Tuesday, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Brou scored on an and-one in the fourth quarter, contributing to a decisive 9-0 run. Afterward, he stepped up on defense, blocking a shot and drawing a charge.

  3. Jackson Mallory, jr. — The 6-foot-2 guard is Mr. Glue Guy for the Lions. Mallory is one of those players that does a little bit of everything to help out his team. He played solid defense, drawing one charge, and he just missed out on a double-double with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. He added a big three-pointer in front of the LHS bench in the third quarter for a five-point lead.

    “He was big tonight,” Lewis said. “The way he defends. The way he handles himself on the floor. He rebounded pretty well early in the first half. He was kind of getting bumped around. He learned how to figure that out in the second half. Just a real solid, all-around player who is just a real valuable player to us.”

  4. Price Morgan, sr. — Morgan dealt with a little foul trouble in the first half, but he found his rhythm in the third quarter, dishing hi-lo passes to Brou, scoring on a layup and blocking a shot. Morgan had 10 points, two rebounds and three assists.

    “Price and I have played together since seventh grade,” Brou said. “I’ve just been waiting to get back on the floor with him. Just the two-headed monster that we like to call each other.”

  5. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Harvey knows how to step up in big moments. In the first quarter, he broke a four-minute scoreless stretch with a three-pointer. He added an assist to Roberts in the fourth quarter on a triple that gave the Lions a seven-point lead with four minutes to go. Harvey finished with seven points, two assists and a steal.

  6. Braden Solko, jr. — He avoided foul trouble and dished two assists off of the bench. He didn’t take any shots, but played solid defense on the perimeter.

  7. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Buffalomeat seemed a little hesitant on the offensive end, missing his only shot attempt. He added a rebound and a steal.

  8. Austin Miller, jr. — Played a little bit and he did not attempt a shot. He turned the ball over once before halftime.

    — Next up: 6:45 p.m. Thursday vs. Highland Park at Blue Valley Shootout. Record: 2-0.

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

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Alumni watch: College Basketball

The high school basketball season started last week, but for several Lawrence natives, their basketball season began last month when their college seasons began.

Most of these former Lawrence High, Free State and Bishop Seabury basketball players are about 10 games into their season, and here's a look at how they've been playing (stats through Saturday, Dec. 5):

John Barbee, Barton CC (Lawrence High): 13 games, 5.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 22 total assists and 20 total steals.

Makayla Bell, Neosho CC (Lawrence High): 10 games, 12.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 9 total steals.

Anthony Bonner, Colorado State (Lawrence High): DNP

Thomas Diaz, Texas A&M Kingsville (Seabury): 7 games, 1.0 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3 total steals and 3 blocks.

Ariana Frantz, St. Mary’s (Free State): 2 games, 2 total points and 1 steal.

Brett Frantz, Youngstown St. (Free State): 9 games, 3.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 10 total assists.

Summer Frantz, St. Mary’s (Free State): 7 games, 1.3 points and 0.4 rebounds.

Georgi Funtarov, UC-Davis (Free State/Seabury): 2 game, 3 total points and 7 rebounds.

Lex Gaumer, DePauw (Seabury): 3 games, 5 total assists, 2 rebounds and 0-for-5 from the floor.

Courtney Hoag, Baker (Free State/Seabury): 9 games, 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 15 blocks.

Kyle Hoffman, Ottawa (Lawrence High): DNP

Kennedy Kirkpatrick, Bowling Green (Free State): 7 games, 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 12 total assists.

Khadre Lane, Campbell (Free State/Seabury): 1 game, 1 total point, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.

Evan Manning, Kansas (Free State): 4 games, 6 total points and 1 rebound.

Jake Mosiman, Arkansas (Lawrence High): 1 game, 1 minute, 0-for-1 from the field.

Justin Narcomey, Haskell (Free State): No stats available

Marissa Pope, Cowley CC (Lawrence High): 10 games, 5.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 21 total assists and 8 steals.

KJ Pritchard, Clarendon College (Lawrence High): 11 games, 15.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and shooting 40-for-72 from deep.

Ben Rajewski, Simpson College (Lawrence High): 7 games, 3.7 points, 0.9 rebounds, shooting 7-of-17 from deep.

Jack Raney, Ottawa (Free State): DNP

Tyler Self, Kansas (Free State): 4 games, 3 total points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr. If I forgot somebody (probably), please let me know and I'll add him/her to the list.

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Football Game Tape: Week Eleven

After a two-point loss in the City Showdown, Free State High football players remained upbeat in practice the following the week. They knew they were a better team than their 0-3 record showed, and were confident they could turn their season around.

Now the Firebirds are one win away from a spot in the Class 6A state championship game following a 52-34 victory over top-seeded Wichita Northwest in the quarterfinals.

"I think that our mood is pretty good for the upcoming weeks," FSHS senior lineman Tanner Liba said a few days after the City Showdown. "We definitely think that we can go 6-3 — undefeated for the rest of the season. We’re all pretty confident.”

The Firebirds have now won eight straight games. They have a ton of confidence in their defense and they can back it up. This season, they've faced the No. 2 (Northwest), No. 3 (SM East), No. 5 (Lawrence High), No. 6 (Topeka High) and No. 8 (Olathe North) scoring offenses in Class 6A. Those elite offenses have only scored 12 touchdowns in 20 quarters against Free State's defense, which includes two touchdowns by Northwest when the Firebirds held a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter.

"I don’t think we’re too surprised about it," FSHS senior Drew Tochtrop said Friday. "We knew we were capable of doing this."

Lawrence High had trouble on both sides of the ball against Blue Valley and suffered a season-ending 42-17 loss.

Of course, the Lions were disappointed with the loss. They had their eyes set on winning a state championship. But they'll be able to look back on their season with plenty of pride. They won a Sunflower League title and completed the school's first undefeated regular-season since 1993.

It's always great to see a community rally around a team, and that definitely happened at Lawrence High this fall. And one loss can't take away from those accomplishments.

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Free State at Derby at 7 p.m. Friday — The Panthers (10-1) feature the top scoring offense in the state and a tough defense. They've won their past eight games, including playoff wins over Topeka High and Junction City. Derby has dealt with plenty of injuries, losing star RB Garrett Xanders to a torn ACL in September and RB Kristian Breedlove to an injury last week. The Panthers are led by dual-threat QB Brady Rust, who ran for 292 yards against Junction City, and threw for another 124 yards. It's the sixth time in eight seasons the Panthers have advanced to the semifinals.

Free State players celebrate following their 52-34 victory over Wichita Northwest Friday night in Wichita.

Free State players celebrate following their 52-34 victory over Wichita Northwest Friday night in Wichita. by John Young


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. 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 football

  1. Alan Clothier, QB — The LHS senior quarterback did all he could to keep the Lions within striking distance. With the Blue Valley's defense focused in on running back JD Woods, Clothier took matters into his owns hands by bolting for a 93-yard run with the Lions backed up near their own goal line. Woods scored on the next play to tie it at 7-7. Clothier accounted for the Lions' other touchdown on a 74-yard quarterback keeper.

  2. Amani Bledsoe, DE/RT — Bledsoe got to Blue Valley quarterback Colton McCumber midway through the first quarter for a sack that resulted in a 12-yard loss. McCumber adjusted after that by getting rid of the ball quickly for the rest of the night by either handing the ball off to running back Will Evans, or finding receiver Taylor Debey open on five-yard out routes. Bledsoe also helped spring Clothier loose for his 74-yard touchdown run.

  3. JD Woods, RB/DB — Woods let there be no doubt that he was not going to give up until time ran out on the Lions. Clothier was starting to find a rhythm with Woods by dumping the ball off to him on shovel passes. The Tigers defensive line finally snuffed one out, though, and leveled Woods midway through the fourth quarter as the Lions were driving. The hit left the crowd silent as Woods was slow to his feet, and unsteady as he tried to walk off the field. Woods' night appeared to be done, but he came back out a few plays later on the defensive side of the ball to join the LHS secondary.

  4. Tanner Green, LB — The Lions would likely have faced a bigger halftime deficit had it not been for some timely tackling from Green. Blue Valley reached the red zone on its first two drives, but came up empty thanks to a couple of big hits by Green.

  5. Cole Brungardt, K — After the Lions gave up 21 unanswered to trail Blue Valley, 28-7, with time winding down in the first half, LHS desperately needed some points before the break. Brungardt nailed a 40-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the first half to cut the deficit to 18 points. The LHS kicker was also 2-for-2 on extra points.

  6. Trey Georgie, DE/LT — It was a rare night where Georgie and Bledsoe were not able to help the Lions control either side of the line. Georgie did have a big block to give Clothier running room on the left side for his 93-yard burst in the second quarter.

  7. Santino Gee and Cade Burghart, S — After McCumber came out firing and completed his first three passes for big gains, the safety combo of Gee and Burghart played big roles in helping the Lions defense bend, but not break on Blue Valley's first two drives with crucial pass break-ups.

  8. Price Morgan, LB/TE — Morgan was held in check offensively, but came close to hauling in a deep ball from Clothier that would have likely gone for six. The ball was barely overthrown, as Morgan could not quite catch up to it. The tight end helped the offensive line free up rare running room Woods on screen and shovel passes.

  9. The seniors — LHS coach Dirk Wedd and Clothier both gave credit where it was due following the season-ending loss, and commended Blue Valley for outplaying them in each facet of the game. Clothier led a core group of seniors who started for the better part of three seasons, and made steady progress to build up to Friday’s heartbreaking loss. The seniors were in front line of Lions who turned around and clapped to congratulate Blue Valley as the Tigers raised the sectional trophy on their home turf. The Class of 2016 led the Lions to a 10-1 season and a Sunflower League championship.

    — Record: 10-1.

Free State football

  1. Bryce Torneden, QB/FS — One of the most dominating performances I’ve seen this season. He ran for two touchdowns, threw for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and returned an interception for a touchdown. The North Dakota State commit had 225 total yards of offense and, defensively, he was a big reason the Grizzlies had problems throwing the ball.

  2. Sam Skwarlo, RB/LB — In the fourth quarter, the Firebirds handed the ball seven straight times to Skwarlo. Each run, it looked like he was only getting stronger. He finished the drive with a 34-yard touchdown, his second TD of the game. He finished with 157 rushing yards and he made some big plays defensively, blitzing up the middle for two sacks.

  3. Jay Dineen, LG/LB — The impact Torneden made on offense, Dineen did the same for the defense. He had two sacks, forced a fumble and sent heavy pressure on a lot of pass plays, sending Wichita Northwest QB Kevin Folsom to the ground.

  4. Noah Kema, DE — After moving into a starting role, Kema’s made a huge impact each week. Kema intercepted a pass in the third quarter, and was key to stopping Northwest’s explosive run games with several tackles around the line of scrimmage.

  5. Zack Sanders, WR/CB — Tasked with covering Northwest receiver Martese Mullins, Sanders broke up a few passes and made tackles on short passes in space. Mullins finished with 86 yards on 5 catches after recording at least 140 yards and two touchdowns in the previous two games. At receiver, he had three catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

  6. Drew Tochtrop, LB — Nobody knew whether Tochtrop would play on Friday after missing three practices with a strained back from lifting weights. After sitting out the first quarter, Tochtrop returned and immediately grabbed an interception — Folsom’s first INT of the season. He added a few tackles to stuff Northwest’s run game and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

  7. Gage Foster, LB — Filling in for Tochtrop, Foster looked like a seasoned veteran at linebacker. The sophomore helped force a punt with a tackle for a 3-yard loss in the second quarter, applied a lot of heat on blitzes, and he even batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage. He might be the hardest hitting backup QB in the state.

  8. Tanner Liba, RT — The senior helped set the edge on the right side of line, along with fellow linemen Sam Hambleton and Garrett Swisher. Against an athletic defense, the Firebirds ran for 285 yards on 40 carries (7.1 yards per rush).

  9. Tanner Cobb, DB — The 5-foot-10, 150-pound sophomore made one of the biggest plays of the game, recovering a fumble on a kickoff, helping the Firebirds turn an 28-20 lead into a 35-20 advantage before halftime. Cobb also made a tackle on another kickoff return in the first half.

  10. Jack Flynn, WR/P — Flynn caught two passes for 34 yards, which includes one catch off of a deflection. But his most memorable play was tossing an eight-yard touchdown to Torneden under pressure on a trick play right before halftime. He also had a couple of good punts, helping Free State with field position.

    — Next up: Friday at Derby. Record: 8-3.

    Lawrence High sophomore running back Dante Jackson is wrapped up by a pair of Blue Valley defenders.

    Lawrence High sophomore running back Dante Jackson is wrapped up by a pair of Blue Valley defenders. by Ryan Waggoner/Special to the Journal-World


The Class 6A playoff bracket is below. The state championship will be played at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 at Emporia State University's Welch Stadium.

East bracket

No. 6 Olathe North (10-1) at No. 4 Blue Valley (9-2)

West bracket

No. 4 Free State (8-3) at No. 3 Derby (10-1)


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

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