Entries from blogs tagged with “High”

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 baseball wins 6A state title

Free State High’s baseball program captured its second Class 6A state championship, and its first since 2006, with a 4-1 victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark.

Starting pitcher Hunter Gudde and reliever Casey Hearnen took a no-hitter into the sixth inning as Free State’s pitching, which carried it all season, again came through for the Firebirds, who finished their banner year 21-4.

The Cougars (19-6) neither scored, nor registered a hit until the top of the sixth, long after FSHS plated three in the bottom of the second to take control. Free State’s No. 9 hitter, Marcelino Cortez, blooped a two-out, two-run single in the second for one of the biggest hits of the season.

— Look for much more on the Firebirds’ title in Saturday’s Lawrence Journal-World, and online at LJWorld.com.

TOP 7 — FSHS 4, SMNW 1

Paul Bachelor got hit by a Casey Hearnen pitch to lead off.

Pinch-hitter Clayton Hale flied out down the left-field line.

Joe Todd drew a walk to give SMNW two runners with one down.

Dylan Nedved hit into the game-ending, 1-6-3 double play back to Hearnen, sealing Free State’s championship and an incredible season.

BOTTOM 6 — FSHS 4, SMNW 1

— SMNW brought in its second reliever, Matt Drummond in the middle of the sixth —

Jacob Pavlyak led off the frame with a base on balls.

Casey Hearnen followed it up with another walk, giving the Firebirds two base runners.

— Following two straight walks, SMNW removed Drummond and replaced him with Brennon Covington. —

Mikey Corbett popped a bunt high down the first-base line and Covington and Ferencz both dove for it as it fell in safely. But SMNW was able to get an out at second base on the play.

Marcelino Cortez came up with runners on the corners and one out, and the No. 9 FSHS batter grounded the ball to first base, reaching on a fielder’s choice as Pavlyak scored, moving the lead to 4-1. An error on the throw to second left Corbett safe, too.

A wild pitch gave Free State two runners in scoring position.

Zion Bowlin struck out swinging for the second out.

The sixth ended with Cooper Karlin grounding out to second base.

TOP 6 — FSHS 3, SMNW 1

Dylan Nedved drew a walk to give the Cougars something to feel good about.

Next, Javier Pena delivered the first hit of the game for SMNW with a single to left field.

With a potential no-hitter squashed, Cougars leadoff hitter Nate Reeder came up with two runners on and no outs, and smacked a single to right field to load the bases.

Casey Kelley stepped into the batter’s box as the potential go-ahead run with the bases loaded and no outs. The No. 2 hitter for SMNW struck out on a low, outside pitch from Casey Hearnen.

Garrett Stephens hit a ground ball to 2B Cooper Karlin, who went to second for the easy force out as SMNW got on the board and cut the FSHS lead to 3-1.

With runners on the corners and two away, cleanup hitter Brett Ferencz hit a soft chopper back to Hearnen, ending the Cougars’ threat.

BOTTOM 5 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

Cooper Karlin flied out to start the inning.

Joel Spain slapped a single up the middle with one out.

Spain got caught attempting to steal second base with Jon Saathoff at the plate, and the FSHS cleanup hitter doubled to the left-field gap to extend the inning.

With Saathoff on second, Hunter Gudde struck out looking to end the fifth.

TOP 5 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

Paul Bachelor popped the ball up softly to P Casey Hearnen on the first pitch of the inning.

Dylan Dirks tried to bunt his way on base, but Hearnen pounced on it and tossed it to first for the second out.

Joe Todd grounded out to SS Mikey Corbett, leaving SMNW hitless through five innings.

BOTTOM 4 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

Casey Hearnen singled to right field in his first plate appearance.

Mikey Corbett pulled off a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line, advancing courtesy runner Matt Pendry to second.

Marcelino Cortez popped out to right field for out No. 2.

With two outs and Pendry on second base, Zion Bowlin extended for a ground ball down the third-base line but couldn’t beat the throw of Dylan Nedved.

TOP 4 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

Casey Kelley smacked a ball the way of 3B Zion Bowlin, who kept his body in front of it and made the play.

Garrett Stephens grounded out to second base for out No. 2.

Brett Ferencz grounded out to SS Mikey Corbett, finishing off a one-two-three frame.

BOTTOM 3 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

— SMNW brought in RHP reliever Casey Kelley in the middle of the third. —

Cooper Karlin, the first Firebird to face new hurler Kelley, popped up, foul, to third base.

Joel Spain turned on a pitch but flied out to left field.

Cleanup hitter Jon Saathoff reached with a two-out walk.

Hunter Gudde made it back-to-back bases on balls for Free State.

Jacob Pavlyak, with two down and runners on first and second, chopped a slow ground ball to third, but Dylan Nedved played it perfectly and 1B Brett Ferencz stretched out to snag the throw and end the inning.

TOP 3 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

— After two no-hit innings from Gudde, FSHS turned to reliever Casey Hearnen. —

New pitcher Casey Hearnen fanned the first batter he faced, Dylan Nedved.

Javier Pena grounded out to Hearnen for out No. 2.

Cougars leadoff hitter Nate Reeder tried to find a hole between 2B and 1B but FSHS 2B Cooper Karlin denied him, sliding across the turf to make the play on the groundout.

BOTTOM 2 — FSHS 3, SMNW 0

Jon Saathoff hit the ball to right field, and had to beat a throw form Nate Reeder to get a single.

Hunter Gudde, with courtesy runner on Daniel Bryant on first base, smacked an opposite-field triple to the right-field gap, giving FSHS a 1-0 lead in the 6A title game.

With Gudde 90 feet from home and no outs, Jacob Pavlyak struck out looking.

Tripp Wright drew a walk to put runners on the corners.

Mikey Corbett grounded the ball back to P Dylan Dirks, who looked to throw out Gudde after he strayed too far from third base. The pitcher eventually got his man after two different run-downs and games of pickle on the base paths.

No. 9 FSHS hitter Marcelino Cortez came up with runners on the corners and two down, but Corbett stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Cortez then blooped a single into shallow left-center to drive in two more FSHS runs and build a 3-0 lead.

Zion Bowlin grounded out to third base, ending a huge inning for the Firebirds.

TOP 2 — NO SCORE

The Cougars’ Paul Bachelor grounded out to third base to start the second.

Dylan Dirks hit the ball back at P Hunter Gudde, who threw him out at first base.

Joe Todd tried to go the opposite way on an outside pitch, but 2B Cooper Karlin jumped on the line drive for the third out.

BOTTOM 1 — NO SCORE

Zion Bowlin ripped the first pitch lefty Dylan Dirks threw right back up the middle for a base hit.

Cooper Karlin grounded the ball to 2B Javier Pena, who turned a double play with SS Paul Bachelor.

Joel Spain struck out swinging to end the inning.

TOP 1 — NO SCORE

Nate Reeder led off the game for the Cougars with a ground ball up the middle, but 2B Mikey Corbett sprung on it and threw him out at first.

Casey Kelley struck out looking against FSHS righty Hunter Gudde, starting for the second time in two days at state.

Garrett Stephens walked with two outs against Gudde, who surrendered just his seventh base on balls of the season.

SMNW cleanup hitter Brett Ferencz hit a soft fly ball to center field to end the inning.

PRE-GAME

Free State High’s baseball program is one victory away from its first state championship since 2006.

The Firebirds won their ninth game in a row, with ease, knocking off Olathe South, 4-1, in an afternoon semifinal at Hoglund Ballpark.

FSHS (20-4) will face another Sunflower League foe, Shawnee Mission Northwest (19-5) for the Class 6A title at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The two teams faced each other once this spring, on April 7, when the Cougars won 6-3 at Free State.

FSHS junior Mikey Corbett (10) picks up a grounder against Haysville Campus during the Class 6A state baseball tournament Thursday at Hoglund Ballpark.

FSHS junior Mikey Corbett (10) picks up a grounder against Haysville Campus during the Class 6A state baseball tournament Thursday at Hoglund Ballpark. by Richard Gwin

Zion Bowlin went 1-for-3 and scored twice in that meeting, and Cooper Karlin went 1-for-4.

This blog will serve as your landing spot for live updates throughout the championship showdown, and you can follow the action on Twitter, via @LJWpreps.

Here's Free State's lineup for the title game:

3B Zion Bowlin

2B Cooper Karlin

CF Joel Spain

C Jon Saathoff

P Hunter Gudde

LF Jacob Pavlyak

RF Tripp Wright

SS Mikey Corbett

1B Marcelino Cortez

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Free State beats Olathe South, 4-1, to reach 6A title game

Free State High’s baseball team kept its winning streak and state championship hopes alive Friday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark by handling Olathe South, 4-1, in the Class 6A semifinals.

For the second day in a row, the Firebirds (20-4) got a complete game from their starting pitcher. Junior Trevor Munsch went all seven innings against the Falcons and only gave up five hits and a walk, while striking out five batters.

FSHS will try to win its first state title since 2006 against Shawnee Mission Northwest (19-5) at approximately 5:30 p.m.

TOP 7 — FSHS 4, O-SOUTH 1

Brian Sullivan struck out swinging to start the Falcons’ final chance.

Nathan Howard singled to left field to give O-South some life.

Tristan Porter chopped a grounder to second for out No. 2, as Howard moved to second base.

Trevor Munsch struck out Stephen Miller to end the game and move Free State to the 6A title game, against Shawnee Mission Northwest.

BOTTOM 6 — FSHS 4, O-SOUTH 1

Tripp Wright struck out to lead off the bottom of the inning.

Mikey Corbett popped the ball to center field for out No. 2.

Marcelino Cortez grounded out to shortstop for a one-two-three inning.

TOP 6 — FSHS 4, O-SOUTH 1

Colt Rusnak reached on an infield single that went between Munsch’s legs to lead things off.

But Noah Croft hit a tailor-made double-play ball to 2B Cooper Karlin, who turned it with SS Mikey Corbett.

Isaiah Campbell lined the ball hard to right-center field, but FSHS CF Joel Spain was all over it, ending the inning.

BOTTOM 5 — FSHS 4, O-SOUTH 1

Zion Bowlin burned O-South right fielder Stephen Miller for playing him too shallow, and tripled to lead off the inning.

Left-handed Cooper Karlin knocked the ball the other way, to right field, to plate Bowlin and extend the Free State lead to 3-1.

Joel Spain saw Karlin steal second base before drawing a walk.

FSHS cleanup hitter Jon Saathoff came up with two runners on and one down, and bunted just in front of the plate. But O-South 1B Noah Croft threw out lead runner Karlin at third base.

Hunter Gudde padded Free State’s lead with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Spain easily and moving the home team’s advantage to 4-1.

Jacob Pavlyak grounded to second and a fielder’s choice ended a productive inning for FSHS.

TOP 5 — FSHS 2, O-SOUTH 1

Stephen Miller led off the Falcons’ inning by striking out, becoming Munsch’s third K victim.

Carson Green singled to right field with one out.

Brian Wircenske got fooled by a low-inside pitch from Munsch and struck out.

O-South leadoff hitter didn’t get a chance to do anything at the plate as Green got picked off to end the threat.

BOTTOM 4 — FSHS 2, O-SOUTH 1

Free State’s Hunter Gudde turned on an inside pitch and singled to left field to open the bottom of the fourth.

Jacob Pavlyak drew a base on balls on four pitches to give FSHS two runners with no outs.

Tripp Wright hit a slow ground ball to second base, moving both runners over and into scoring position.

With one out, Mikey Corbett drove in Gudde with a groundout to shortstop, giving FSHS the lead back, 2-1.

Marcelino Cortez grounded the ball to short to end the inning.

TOP 4 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 1

Noah Croft gave the Falcons some life with a double down the third-base line to lead off the inning.

With Croft in scoring position, No. 3 hitter Isaiah Campbell drew a four-pitch walk.

Brian Sullivan hit a grounder to 2B Cooper Karlin, but Mikey Corbett couldn’t quite turn the double play, giving O-South runners on the corners with one out.

Sullivan stole second base with Nathan Howard batting, and O-South’s No. 5 hitter delivered an RBI-groundout to third base that tied the game at 1.

With a runner on second and two outs, Tristan Porter watched a 3-2 pitch go by, and struck out looking to end the inning.

BOTTOM 3 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 0

Falcons first baseman Noah Croft robbed Cooper Karlin of a base hit down the right side.

Joel Spain grounded to second base for out No. 2.

With no one on and two outs, Jon Saathoff struck out swinging.

TOP 3 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 0

O-South’s Stephen Miller chopped the ball back to Munsch, who threw him out at first.

Carson Green popped the first pitch he faced high down the first-base line for the second out of the inning.

Brian Wircenske, the Falcons’ No. 9 hitter, gave his team its first hit with a single to left field.

Wircenske moved to second on a wild pitch.

With two down and a runner on second, O-South leadoff hitter Colt Rusnak popped the ball foul and nearly out of play, but FSHS first baseman Marcelino Cortez chased it down to get Free State out of the inning.

BOTTOM 2 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 0

Jacob Pavlyak hit the ball back to pitcher Austyn Gooch, who stopped it with his glove and tossed it underhand to first for the out.

Tripp Wright swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded out to second base.

Mikey Corbett got hit by a pitch for the 11th time this season, giving FSHS a runner with two outs.

Marcelino Cortez drew a base on balls to get Free State back to the top of its lineup.

A wild pitch to Zion Bowlin advanced Corbett and Cortez to second and third base.

With two runners in scoring position, Bowlin reached for a low pitch outside and popped it out, foul, to right field.

TOP 2 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 0

Brian Sullivan struck out swinging versus Munsch.

Nathan Howard smacked a line drive to center, but Joel Spain ran it down quickly for out No. 2.

Tristan Porter barely made contact with a Munsch pitch and dribbled it back to the pitcher, keeping O-South hitless.

BOTTOM 1 — FSHS 1, O-SOUTH 0

O-South righty Austyn Gooch struck out the first Firebird he faced, Zion Bowlin.

Cooper Karlin struck the ball hard with a line drive to center field, but it didn’t drop in for a hit.

Joel Spain gave FSHS its first base runner by drawing a walk.

With two outs, Thursday’s hero, Jon Saathoff knocked a double down the right-field line and advanced to third as Spain scored, giving the Firebirds an early 1-0 lead.

Hunter Gudde grounded out to second to end a productive inning.

TOP 1 — NO SCORE

Colt Rusnak grounded the first pitch he saw from Free State lefty Trevor Munsch to third baseman Zion Bowlin for the first out.

Noah Croft hit the ball up the middle with one down, but Mikey Corbett handled it and threw him out.

Isaiah Campbell smacked a pitch down the left side, and Bowlin threw him out for a one-two-three inning.

STARTING LINEUPS

Here are your Free State starters for today’s semifinal vs. Olathe South:

3B Zion Bowlin

2B Cooper Karlin

CF Joel Spain

C Jon Saathoff

RF Hunter Gudde

LF Jacob Pavlyak

DH Tripp Wright

SS Mikey Corbett

1B Marcelino Cortez

Left-hander Trevor Munsch will be on the mound, but won't hit.

And for Olathe South:

3B Colt Rusnak

1B Noah Croft

DH Isaiah Campbell

LF Brian Sullivan

CF Nathan Howard

2B Tristan Porter

RF Stephen Mitchell Miller

C Carson Green

SS Brian Wircenske

Right-hander Austyn Gooch is the starting pitcher.

PRE-GAME

After breezing past Campus, 4-0, in the Class 6A semifinals, Free State High’s baseball team needs two victories today at Hoglund Ballpark to win its first state championship since 2006.

It’s a four-team, one-day Sunflower League tournament for the 2015 title, with the Firebirds (19-4) facing Olathe South (16-7) in the second semifinal.

Shawnee Mission Northwest earned a berth in today's championship game by defeating Shawnee Mission East, 5-3.

Rain fell at Hoglund, but it didn't hold up play in the first semifinal. However, officials announced Free State's game against O-South has been pushed back to a 3:45 p.m. start.

This blog will serve as your landing spot for live updates throughout the day, and you can follow the action on Twitter, via @LJWpreps.

FSHS senior Joel Spain (4) slides safely into third base in the Firebirds' 4-0 victory over Haysville Campus in the state 6A baseball tournament Thursday at Hoglund Ballpark.

FSHS senior Joel Spain (4) slides safely into third base in the Firebirds' 4-0 victory over Haysville Campus in the state 6A baseball tournament Thursday at Hoglund Ballpark. by Richard Gwin

FSHS has won eight games in a row headed into its big day at the state tournament, after junior pitcher Hunter Gudde threw a two-hit gem Thursday.

Joel Spain had two hits in the first-round win, as did Jon Saathoff, who drove in three of Free State’s four runs.

Earlier this season, FSHS defeated Olathe South, 3-0. Gudde started that game for the Firebirds, but today it will be Trevor Munsch on the mound.

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FINAL: Free State baseball beats Campus, 4-0, at 6A state tournament

Free State starting pitcher Hunter Gudde limited Campus to just two hits Thursday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark, and the Firebirds utilized a three-run fifth to take control in the first round of the Class 6A state baseball tournament.

Cooper Karlin drove in Marcelino Cortez in the fifth to build the FSHS lead to 2-0 and later that inning, Jon Saatoff’s two-run double all but ended the Colts’ chances.

Gudde threw a complete game, struck out five and walked just one hitter.

The Firebirds (19-4) will face the winner of Derby-Olathe South in the semifinals at approximately noon Friday.

TOP 7 — FSHS 4, CAMPUS 0

Blake Manuel reached low and outside searching for a base hit, but SS Mikey Corbett got under it for the out.

Kreighton Rogers grounded to Zion Bowlin for out No. 2.

The game ended with SS Corbett throwing out Lemmons.

BOTTOM 6 — FSHS 4, CAMPUS 0

Tripp Wright hit the ball behind Colts pitcher Neil Lemmons, but he made a great grab and threw him out.

Mikey Corbett popped the ball high to third base for out No. 2.

Marcelino Cortez flied out to left field to end the inning.

TOP 6 — FSHS 4, CAMPUS 0

Campus leadoff hitter Preston Sauer lined the ball into left field, where Pavlyak raced to rob him of a potential hit.

Trace Maddux then kept Pavlyak busy with an easy pop-up.

And Pavlyak made it a one-two-three inning by getting under a Matt Johnson fly ball.

BOTTOM 5 — FSHS 4, CAMPUS 0

Marcelino Cortez led off by legging out an infield single to second base after grounding the ball up the middle.

Zion Bowlin laid down a sacrifice bunt just in front of home plate to move Cortez to second.

Cooper Karlin delivered a crucial insurance run and gave Free State a 2-0 lead with a base hit up the middle.

Karlin, who moved to second base when the Colts’ CF misplayed his single, only moved to third on a base hit from Joel Spain.

With runners on the corners and one down, Spain took off to steal second base, giving FSHS two runners in scoring position for Jon Saatoff.

Saatoff gave the Firebirds even more breathing room with a two-run double to left field, moving Free State’s lead to 4-0.

Gudde popped the ball into the right-center gap for a sacrifice fly that moved Saatoff to third base.

Jacob Pavlyak grounded out to shortstop, ending a huge inning for the Firebirds.

TOP 5 — FSHS 1, CAMPUS 0

Connor Patterson reached for an outside pitch and made hard contact, but 2B Cooper Karlin played it easily for the out.

Jay Hill popped the ball high into the cloudy sky, giving Campus its first ball into the outfield since the first inning, but Tripp Wright got under it easily.

Seth Strohm grounded out to third, ending the inning and leaving Campus with six outs to mount a comeback.

BOTTOM 4 — FSHS 1, CAMPUS 0

Jacob Pavlyak grounded out to shortstop for the first out.

On the next pitch, Tripp Wright hit the ball hard to SS Matt Johnson, who threw him out.

Mikey Corbett tried to get on base with a sneaky bunt down the third-base line with two out, but Lemmons showed off his defense, pouncing on it and throwing Corbett out for a one-two-three inning.

TOP 4 — FSHS 1, CAMPUS 0

Trace Maddux grounded out to first base to open the fourth.

Matt Johnson dribbled the ball up the third-base line and it refused to roll foul, giving him an infield single with one out.

Blake Manuel hit the ball back at Gudde, who got a glove on it, then shortstop Mikey Corbett cleaned it up and threw him out at first. Johnson advanced to second.

With two down and Johnson in scoring position, Kreighton Rogers drew a walk, Gudde’s first of the afternoon.

Neil Lemmons had a chance to help his cause with two Colts on base, but Gudde struck him out to end the threat.

BOTTOM 3 — FSHS 1, CAMPUS 0

The Firebirds’ leadoff hitter, Zion Bowlin, popped the ball into shallow right field to open the frame.

Cooper Karlin tried to beat out a throw after grounding to shortstop but came up a step too slow of legging it out.

Joel Spain reached base for the second time by getting hit by a Lemmons pitch.

After Spain moved 180 feet on one pitch, Jon Saathoff drove him in with a hard-hit infield single to shortstop, giving Free State a 1-0 lead. Saatoff moved on to second base on a throwing error.

Hunter Gudde lined out to left field to end the inning.

TOP 3 — NO SCORE

Gudde struck out Jay Hill to open the third.

Seth Strohm struck out swinging to give Gudde four K’s.

Corbett handled a ground ball off the bat off Preston Sauer to finish a one-two-three inning.

BOTTOM 2 — NO SCORE

Hunter Gudde started off the inning with a base hit to left field.

Jacob Pavlyak moved pinch runner Jaden Moore to second base with a perfectly placed bunt down the first-base line.

With Moore on second base, and one down, Tripp Wright hit the ball back to the pitcher, Lemmons, who threw Moore out at third base, allowing Wright to reach on a fielder’s choice.

Wright moved to second on a wild pitch and Mikey Corbett drew a walk to give FSHS two base runners with two outs.

Marcelino Cortez hit the ball down the first-base line but grounded out, ending Free State’s shot at putting a run on the board in the second.

TOP 2 — NO SCORE

The Colts’ Kreighton Rogers grounded out to shortstop Mikey Corbett.

Gudde struck out Neil Lemmons.

Connor Patterson hit a hard grounder to first base, but Marcelino Cortez handled it easily to end the inning.

BOTTOM 1 — NO SCORE

Firebirds leadoff hitter Zion Bowlin flied out to center field.

Cooper Karlin grounded out to second base on the first pitch he saw.

With two down, Joel Spain singled up the middle for Free State’s first base runner of the afternoon, then stole second base to get in scoring position.

With the speedy Spain on second, Jon Saatoff lined out to center field.

TOP 1

FSHS RHP Hunter Gudde opened the game by surrendering a double up the middle to Campus leadoff hitter Preston Sauer, whose hustle earned him an extra base.

The Colts’ Trace Maddux grounded out to first base for the first out, advancing Sauer to third base.

Campus No. 3 hitter Matt Johnson struck out looking against Gudde.

Gudde got cleanup hitter Blake Manuel to ground out to 3B Zion Bowlin to end the Colts’ scoring threat and get out of the inning.

PRE-GAME

Welcome to the Lawrence Journal-World’s live coverage of the 2015 Class 6A state baseball tournament, featuring Free State High.

The No. 2 seed Firebirds (18-4) enter Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup with Wichita-Haysville Campus (15-7) on a seven-game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 11 games.

FSHS, coached by Mike Hill, returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2010. The pitching staff — led by junior starters Hunter Gudde and Trevor Munsch and senior closer Casey Hearnen — has carried Free State, with a 1.65 ERA. The staff has surrendered only 127 hits in 152 innings.

Free State senior Cooper Karlin (9) and Joel Spain celebrate a run scored by Spain during their game  against Lawrence High Wednesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.

Free State senior Cooper Karlin (9) and Joel Spain celebrate a run scored by Spain during their game against Lawrence High Wednesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark. by John Young

Offensively, senior Joel Spain leads the Firebirds with a .382 batting average and 23 runs scored. Gudde is hitting .361, with a team-leading 20 RBIs. Senior Cooper Karlin has a .318 average, has drawn a team-high 18 walks and has crossed home plate 18 times.

This blog will serve as your landing spot for updates from Kansas University’s Hoglund Ballpark, but you can also follow the action on Twitter, via @LJWpreps.

First pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

Earlier today, No. 1 seed Shawnee Mission East advanced to Friday's semifinals with a 5-4 victory over Junction City.

No. 5 seed Shawnee Mission Northwest defeated Wichita Northwest, 7-0, to give the Sunflower League two teams in the semifinals. No. 2 seed Free State and No. 6 seed Olathe South will try to join their league rivals and continue their hunt for a state title.

STARTING LINEUPS

Here are your Free State starters for today’s quarterfinal vs. Campus:

3B Zion Bowlin

2B Cooper Karlin

CF Joel Spain

C Jon Saathoff

P Hunter Gudde

LF Jacob Pavlyak

RF Tripp Wright

SS Mikey Corbett

1B Marcelino Cortez

And for Campus:

1B Preston Sauer

2B Trace Maddux

SS Matt Johnson

3B Blake Manuel

C Kreighton Rogers

P Neil Lemmons

CF Connor Patterson

LF Jay Hill

RF Seth Strohm

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LHS boys hoops falls in the state title game; Roberts leads player ratings

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." It just wasn't the ending that Lawrence High's boys basketball players were hoping for.

The Lions just couldn't get their shots to drop in a 58-43 loss to Wichita East in the Class 6A state championship on Saturday at Wichita State's Koch Arena.

"We started to press a little bit on offense and we weren’t real crisp," LHS coach Mike Lewis said. "When you start to press and you’re not playing loose, things aren’t going your way — it just snowballs on you. There was a couple of those points there where I thought, ‘OK, here we are. We’re going to get rolling.’ That’s who we are. Everybody who has watched us all year long has seen us sputter a little bit on occasion then all of a sudden we do something that’s going to fuel that fire and get us going. We just never really had that tonight."

The Lions were such a tight-knit group, and you could see it by how difficult it was for them to talk about how much their teammates meant to them afterward. They leaned on each other when assistant coach Kermit Aldridge died last year. They fought together to keep Lewis as their head coach. And they dealt with high expectations after earning a preseason No. 1 ranking in the state.

Though the state championship game didn't go the way they wanted, it was impressive to see the way their classmates and teachers came out to pack the Jungle for all their home games and even quite a few road games.

By any measure, it's easy to count this as a really successful season, and one that many people won't forget.

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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, jr. — It looked like Roberts was going to bring the Lions roaring back in the fourth quarter, like he’s done quite a few times in his LHS career. He knocked down a couple of threes, but the Aces always had a way of answering back. Roberts finished with 18 points and an assist, but he was just as good defensively, slowing down East senior point guard Samajae Jones, who led the Aces in scoring this year. Jones was held to eight points (1-of-8 shooting) and a big reason was Roberts sitting in hip pocket the whole game. It was a great state tournament for Roberts, who averaged 23 points per game.

  2. Anthony Bonner, sr. — Bonner did everything he could to get his shots to drop, but somehow they just wouldn’t find a way to fall in. He was frustrated at the misses, at one point slapping the floor following a missed three, but I thought he did a solid job getting open looks. The Colorado State signee scored 18 points on 5-of-18 shooting and he grabbed six rebounds.

  3. John Barbee, sr. — In the first half, I thought Barbee was a big reason the Lions were within single digits. He matched up against East senior Zach Jackson and held him to five points in the first two quarters, not an easy task against such a smooth and talented player. Barbee ended up with three points, all at the free throw line, and he had three rebounds and three assists.

  4. Price Morgan, jr. — Morgan knew he was going to have a tough matchup against East junior forward Xavier Kelly, and I thought he did well, but Kelly was in a league of his own. Morgan had four points and a team-high seven rebounds. He had to earn all seven of those rebounds and was sent to the floor numerous times. Morgan also had a nice assist to Roberts on the Lions’ second possession of the game, tossing a nice bounce pass on a backdoor cut.

  5. Ben Rajewski, sr. — Rajewski did a good job floating to open spaces against East’s defense to get open looks from behind the three-point arc. He just couldn’t get his shots to fall, going 0-for-4 from the floor. He did his best to help pinch down on Kelly in the low post and really went hard after some loose balls.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — Applegate was playing well, using his physicality to fight for rebounds and space inside. But he picked up two touch fouls in the third quarter within 10 seconds of each other in the third quarter and had to sit with four fouls. He missed a free throw but grabbed two rebounds and one steal.

  7. Fred Brou, jr. — The Lions needed Brou when Morgan and Applegate went into foul trouble, and he did his best to contain Kelly. He didn’t attempt a shot but he grabbed a rebound in five minutes.

  8. Kyle Hoffman (sr.), Tae Shorter (sr.), Anthony Harvey (jr.), Jackson Mallory (so.) and Kobe Buffalomeat (so.) — All five of these guys entered in the final minute of the game. Hoffman missed a three-pointer and Harvey grabbed a rebound.

    — Record: 23-2.

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

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LHS boys hoops advances to state title game; Roberts tops player ratings

Not long after Lawrence High's boys basketball season ended in the sub-state finals last year, the Lions felt like they had some unfinished business. They weren't going to be satisfied with anything short of a state title.

Now they are one win away from achieving what they set out to do all year long.

"It's a bit like a fairy tale," LHS coach Mike Lewis said after his team beat Shawnee Mission North, 78-64, in the state semifinals on Friday night at Wichita State's Koch Arena.

Privately, the Lions were hoping for another chance against Wichita East. They wanted to avenge their loss in the Topeka Invitational Tournament championship game, and they wanted to prove they are the top team in the state. They got their wish when the Aces held off Olathe East for a 59-52 victory.

"Real excited. That’s the matchup we wanted, you know," senior guard Anthony Bonner said. "It’s going to be real fun, play on their home turf this time and hopefully we can come out with a win."

Now the Lions are back in the state championship game for the first time since 2008, and they are looking to bring home a state title for the first time since 1995.

"We’ve had our eyes on the state championship since last year," junior forward Price Morgan said. "It’s just so satisfying after all of the hard work in the summer, tryouts, the early games. Now we’re finally here and we’re ready to make something happen."

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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, jr. — When the Lions needed a lift, Roberts was there to pick his teammates up and help lift them to a victory. He was the only starter on the floor for most of the second quarter and he scored seven of the Lions’ 10 points in the period, helping LHS keep its lead. He finished with a game-high 27 points to go along with three assists and four rebounds while also playing solid defense on the perimeter.

    “Justin stepped up really big,” Bonner said of Roberts. “That’s what great players do. That’s what leaders do. He’s a great leader, he’s a great player and he stepped up and carried us through that first half. Then, we came back in the second half and played really good team ball and got it done.”

  2. Anthony Bonner, sr. — In the first half, Bonner guarded SM North’s leading scorer Michael Weathers and held him to 0-for-8 shooting in the first half. In the second half, Bonner went to work on the other end of the court and scored 16 of his 20 points. He knocked down a pair of threes, found lanes to the rim and did a good job getting to the free throw line. He added six rebounds and two assists.

  3. Ben Rajewski, sr. — Not only did Rajewski play solid defense, keeping himself between his man and the basket, but he also had some timely shots. He drilled a three-pointer midway through the second quarter and another one early in the third quarter to keep increasing the Lions’ lead. Though he spent most of the game in foul trouble and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, he had eight points, a rebound and an assist.

  4. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee only played one minute in the first half because of foul trouble, but he didn’t pick up a foul in the second half despite playing strong defense. He scored eight points, including six straight in the third quarter. He also had five rebounds and an assist.

  5. Logan Applegate, sr. — With Price Morgan in foul trouble, Applegate came off of the bench and he was a huge rim protector against a team that loves to drive to the rim. He couldn’t get his shot to fall, with a couple of layups blocked by SM North defenders, but he grabbed four offensive rebounds which led to his buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter and an extra four points in the fourth quarter.

  6. Price Morgan, jr. — Morgan fouled out early in the fourth quarter, but he still made a huge impact in his 19 minutes on the court. He had six points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. He had to earn all seven of those rebounds, boxing out hard and fighting through defenders to grab the ball.

  7. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou was ready to take on SM North drives to the basket by affecting shots with his shot-blocking ability. He only had one block, but he altered a few more. When the Indians were on a big run in the fourth quarter, desperately trying to make a comeback, Brou essentially ended the game with a fast-break dunk with 1:18 left.

  8. Anthony Harvey, jr. — The Lions needed Harvey with most of the starters on the bench, and he did a great job with ball stability on offense, avoiding SM North’s trap defense. He had one play where he was about to get double-teamed, fell the court, and somehow slip-and-slided right out of the trap. He missed his only shot, a three-pointer, but he had two rebounds.

  9. Jackson Mallory, so. — Mallory entered at the end of the first half when some of his teammates were in foul trouble and played tough defense. He kept the ball moving on offense, and missed his only shot, a three-pointer from the right corner. He also had a rebound in six minutes.

  10. Tae Shorter, sr. — The 5-foot-9 guard buried a three in the final minute, scoring the final LHS points of the contest. He said he had a goal this year of winning two state titles in Wichita: one in basketball and one in the triple jump during track season. He's one game away from being halfway there.

  11. Kyle Hoffman, sr. — Hoffman played one minute in the fourth quarter and he picked up a foul.

  12. Kobe Buffalomeat, so. — Buffalomeat entered in the final minute and didn’t record any stats.

    — Next up: 6:15 p.m. today vs. Wichita East in the state championship. Record: 23-1.

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

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LHS boys basketball advances to the state semis; Roberts leads player ratings

Lawrence High's boys basketball players weren't going to let much get in their way of a state quarterfinal victory on Wednesday.

The Lions shot well, defended tightly, won the battle on the boards and limited turnovers in a 64-46 victory against Wichita South at Wichita State's Koch Arena.

In terms of their five-game tournament at the beginning of the postseason: Three down, two to go.

"We came out and shot it well," LHS coach Mike Lewis said after his team shot 49 percent (21-for-43). "You never know in an arena like this where you don’t practice in this environment how the guys are going to score. I was watching during warmups and the guys seemed to have a pretty good vibe. So I’m glad it carried over to the game."

LHS senior John Barbee said the team was hyped up all day, from sitting in classes and then on the three-hour bus ride to Wichita, that once they hit the court, they were just ready to play.

Next up for the the Lions is a rematch against Shawnee Mission North and their star brothers, juniors Marcus and Michael Weathers. LHS won the lone regular season on the road, 70-66, on Feb. 17. The Indians beat #3 Derby in the quarterfinals, 65-51. Olathe East also advanced to the semis on the other side of the bracket, giving the Sunflower League three of the final four teams in 6A.

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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, jr. — The Lions’ 5-foot-9 point guard missed his first shot from the field, but didn’t miss much afterward. Against Wichita South’s 2-3 zone, Roberts scored 15 points in the first half and he finished with a game-high 24. He finished through contact at the rim, drilled threes and dropped in a floater over Wichita South’s big men. He also had two assists, two rebounds and a steal.

    "I just focused more on my shot, especially my follow-through," Roberts said. "I just tried to set my feet. That’s pretty much what helped me get my shots off."

  2. Anthony Bonner, sr. — In his first game back following a mild concussion, the Colorado State signee showed off his offensive arsenal by scoring just about everywhere on the floor. He drilled a three. He dribbled past defenders and knocked down pull-up jumpers. He dunked. The only place he didn’t score from was the parking lot. He scored 19 points and had a team-high three assists.

    "Just feeding off my teammates’ energy, feeding off my own energy," Bonner said. "They were getting me the ball where I needed it. Justin was hitting shots, everyone was hitting. So we were just feeding off each other and that’s what we do."

  3. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee couldn’t get his shots to drop in the first half, starting 0-for-6 in the field. He admitted he was a little disappointed with how he was playing, but he took out his frustration with a left-handed jam at the end of the third quarter and was dominant for the final nine minutes. He had a game-high 12 rebounds, seven points, three assists and a steal.

  4. Price Morgan, jr. — Morgan was matched up against one of the strongest players he’s faced this season, Wichita South big man Darren Lewis, and the Lions’ forward and linebacker had to fight for every inch defensively. But he pounded the glass for eight rebounds and he nearly had a double-double with eight points. He also had two blocks.

  5. Ben Rajewski, sr. — The 5-foot-11 guard gave LHS its lead that it would never give up with a layup, racing past the defense for a transition bucket. He added a three-pointer near the end of the first half. But I thought he was solid defensively, denying drives and helping out in the low post. He had five points, a rebound and an assist.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — Applegate picked up some quick fouls and wasn’t able to play the same style of game that he had in the sub-state championship against Shawnee Mission East. He scored one point in the fourth quarter and had two rebounds. He also had a nice steal when he first entered the game, intercepting an inbounds lob.

  7. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou didn’t attempt a shot but he did a nice job on offense of setting screens and helping the Lions move around their defenders against the 2-3 zone. He grabbed two rebounds in eight minutes.

  8. Anthony Harvey, jr. — Harvey missed his only shot, a three-point attempt, but he was flying around everywhere on defense. He had two rebounds and a steal that led to a dunk by Barbee.

  9. Tae Shorter, sr. — Shorter had some nice crossover dribbles in his two minutes of playing time.

  10. Kyle Hoffman, sr. — Hoffman played two minutes but didn’t attempt a shot or record any stats.

  11. Jackson Mallory (so.) and Kobe Buffalomeat (so.) — Both of them entered in the final minute when the Lions were running out the clock.

    — Next up: 8:15 p.m. Friday vs. SM North in the state semifinals. Record: 22-1.

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

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Chuck Law’s final season at Free State a success

Chuck Law likely knew last week when he emerged from the visitors’ locker room at Shawnee Mission North High that he had just coached his final boys basketball game for Free State, but it didn’t show on his face or in his words.

The news of his resignation would come five days later. In the moments following the Firebirds’ season-ending sub-state loss, Law was his usual self — remembering every crucial play of the 32-minute game in perfect detail, appreciative for what his guys did right and cognizant of the exact shortcomings that cost FSHS a berth in a sub-state title game.

FSHS boys basketball coach Chuck Law instructs his team during a game against LHS on Friday, Feb. 27.

FSHS boys basketball coach Chuck Law instructs his team during a game against LHS on Friday, Feb. 27. by Richard Gwin

Law didn’t wear the look of a coach burned out or fed up with the grind.

No, things didn’t go Free State’s way that night, at “the most inopportune time of the season,” the ninth-year head coach pointed out. And, yes, that left Law disappointed. But not for himself. For his players.

How much he enjoyed coaching this particular group of Firebirds came across more than anything else following the finale. He rightfully felt proud of what they had done over the previous three months.

Free State players, from left, Blake Winslow, Cody Scott, Khadre Lane, Weston Hack and Keith Loneker celebrate following their victory in their sub-state regional championship game against Olathe East Friday evening in Olathe. The Firebirds advanced to the state championship tournament with a 45-44 victory.

Free State players, from left, Blake Winslow, Cody Scott, Khadre Lane, Weston Hack and Keith Loneker celebrate following their victory in their sub-state regional championship game against Olathe East Friday evening in Olathe. The Firebirds advanced to the state championship tournament with a 45-44 victory. by John Young

Twice in his tenure at FSHS, Law’s teams advanced to the Class 6A state tournament: in 2007 and 2013. Funny as it sounds, he might feel just as grateful — if not more — for what his last bunch of ’Birds achieved on the court.

Free State finished 11-10 in the final chapter of the Chuck Law era. That had to make it easier for him to close that book.

“Sometimes 11 and 10 is a heck of an accomplishment,” he said following the postseason road loss. “And I think it was with these guys, and they know it. They gave us everything that they had, night in, night out, practice, games, didn’t matter.”

He didn’t want the final snapshot of an uncharacteristically bad night to overshadow how hard the players worked all year, and how much the guys on the roster embodied what he looks for in an ideal player: one who can dribble, pass, catch and shoot. Law said these Firebirds bought into the system as much as any team he had been a part of at FSHS, where he first worked as an assistant.

Weston Hack gets a finger tip reach on the ball as Free State boys played Shawnee Mission North Wednesday in the sub-state tournament in Overland Park.

Weston Hack gets a finger tip reach on the ball as Free State boys played Shawnee Mission North Wednesday in the sub-state tournament in Overland Park. by Kevin Anderson/Special to the Journal-World

For an unheralded group of underdogs, that’s exactly what it took to exceed expectations.

Said senior Weston Hack: “Going into the year, we lost those seven seniors from last year and everyone was pretty high on them and pretty low on the rest of us, I’d say.”

Unaware at the time the 2014-15 season would be his coach’s last, Hack, too, deemed it a success.

“I’m not one for moral victories, but I’m sure in a year or two we’ll be able to look back on this and be pretty proud of what we accomplished,” Hack said.

So will Law.

People should remember this more-grit-than-flash team, as well, because it was a reflection of its coach. What’s more, they should remember how much his teams competed against more talented opponents, and how much respect he had for his cross-town rivals at Lawrence.

Every season Mike Lewis coached at LHS, Law game-planned like mad to beat him. And when the rival school fired his embattled competitor last year, Law was there to support Lewis at the school board meeting that led to his re-instatement.

When you look back at Chuck Law’s time running Free State boys basketball, remember the impressive wins, the stellar game plans, the in-game tweaks and adjustments and state tournament trips. But remember that act of class, too.

And don't be surprised if you see him in Wichita in the next few days, supporting the Chesty Lions in their chase for a state championship.

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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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Lawrence High boys basketball punches ticket to state; Roberts leads player ratings

Lawrence High boys basketball coach Mike Lewis said he was proud and he was relieved. Justin Roberts said it was hands down his favorite basketball memory and John Barbee said he was excited the moment he stepped on the floor. Ben Rajewski said it was mostly a blur.

Those were the reactions in the minutes that followed the Lions' 60-45 sub-state championship victory against Shawnee Mission East to earn a trip to the Class 6A state tournament. It will be the Lions' first time back at state in seven years.

The Chesty Lions know plenty about adversity and Friday was no different, playing without leading scorer Anthony Bonner (mild concussion). But that just meant the rest of the team needed to step up and that's what they did as the Lions had a lead for the entire game.

As Tom Keegan wrote in his latest column, senior forward Logan Applegate and junior forward Price Morgan didn't back down from SM East's size or physicality and they both played a huge part in the Lions' win. Those two combined for 21 points and 16 rebounds.

Lewis had said all season long that the Lions were so successful because they had 12 players who could step up on any given night. That rang true on Friday with the Lions needing a big game from everybody to earn a trip to state.

"They earned it," Lewis said. "They deserve it. They’re a group that has stuck together and we’re blessed with a really talented group of kids on and off the floor."

Below is video of the Lions' celebrating their sub-state championship victory. It starts with the starters exiting the court with under a minute to go to a big ovation.



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 boys basketball

  1. Justin Roberts, jr. — Without Anthony Bonner in the lineup, many assumed Roberts would do his best to fill in for his offense. Not the case. Roberts went into distributor mode in the first half, setting up his teammates for buckets. When he did take shots, he was on the money, knocking down his first three attempts. He finished with a game-high 17 points to go along with three assists, five rebounds and a steal.

    “The biggest thing for Justin was try to not to do too much,” LHS coach Mike Lewis said. “That’s kind of a natural thing for a young kid to have a teammate like that go down and say, ‘OK, I want to score more or I want to do more,’ and usually it’s offense. Justin stayed true to who he was and I thought he was solid and I'm just proud of the way he led our team.”

  2. Logan Applegate, sr. — Applegate apparently saved his best games for the biggest moments. He matched up perfectly with SM East’s size and he took advantage, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He scored all 12 points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter, to help the Lions pull away from the Lancers. It seemed like he knew the weak points in the defense and he just stood on the right block, and his teammates found him for layups.

  3. Price Morgan, jr. — The 6-foot-4 forward set the tone early, blocking a shot and grabbing three defensive rebounds in the first two minutes. He also had a great high-low assist to Fred Brou in the first quarter. He finished with nine points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. One of his best moves was in the second quarter, spinning to his left for the bucket-and-the-foul.

  4. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee scored the Lions’ first points, draining a three-pointer, and added one of his three assists on a three to Rajewski a few possessions later. He was limited by foul trouble in the first half because of two offensive fouls, but he was back to his strong defense in the second half, deflecting passes and nearly getting a couple of 10-second backcourt calls with his full-court press. Along with his three assists, he had 10 points and six rebounds.

  5. Ben Rajewski, sr. — Late in the third quarter, the Lancers pulled within four points before Rajewski drilled a three-pointer and helped keep LHS in front. He scored seven points and had three rebounds, but some of his biggest plays were the ones off of the box score. He played incredible defense, helping out his teammates and preventing drives in the paint. He also drew a charge in the fourth quarter.

  6. Anthony Harvey, jr. — Midway through the second quarter, the Lancers were on a 6-0 run and were starting to get some momentum. Then Harvey caught the ball on the right wing, pump-faked and got his defender in the air, took one dribble to his left and quickly fired away with a defender rushing towards him. Nothing but net and a huge momentum swing for LHS. Those were his only three points and he also had a rebound.

  7. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou earned a spot in the starting lineup, in place of Bonner, and played with good energy. He scored two points and had three rebounds. He scored on a layup, pinning his defender to the baseline and catching a nice pass from Morgan.

  8. Jackson Mallory, so. — Mallory played in the final few seconds of the first half before re-entering in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. He grabbed one rebound and didn’t attempt a shot.

  9. Kyle Hoffman (sr.), Tae Shorter (sr.), Kobe Buffalomeat (so.) — All of them entered in the final minute with a 17-point lead to help run out the clock.

    — Next up: Wednesday at state. Record: 21-1.

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

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Lawrence High girls basketball picks up sub-state road win; Pope tops player ratings

Lawrence High's girls basketball players had revenge on their minds when they took the court on Thursday in the first round of sub-state against Shawnee Mission South.

The Lions didn't forget their last game at SM South, when they fell into a big hole in the first quarter and never really bounced back. They were embarrassed by it. LHS coach Jeff Dickson talked to his team in the locker room for more than 40 minutes afterward.

But this time, the Lions were the ones dominating in the first quarter. When the Raiders closed within one possession, the Lions weren't going to let go of their lead and they pulled away with made free throws in the fourth quarter for a 67-56 victory, their first sub-state win since the 2008-09 season.

LHS wanted to attack the basket and that's exactly what happened. Marissa Pope set the tone with a game-high 27 points, and the rest of the Lions were successful in driving into the middle of the paint to pass the ball to post players or cutting wings for layups.

"We’re not a great shooting team but we have some kids who can really put the ball on the floor and get to the basket," Dickson said. "Tonight, besides Marissa, we had some other kids looking to be a little bit more aggressive. We kept our posts where they needed to be, where we’ve tried to keep them all year, and we were able to get them involved early on. It was a great team effort for us to be able to score like that."

The Lions are now one win away from the state tournament, and will have to upset top-seeded Shawnee Mission Northwest to make the trip to Wichita. The Lions had a poor start against the Cougars in their regular season meeting, a 22-point loss, but if they can attack the basket and knock down some outside shots like they did in the first quarter on Thursday, the Lions can compete with anybody.

Free State's girls basketball team cruised to a 61-12 victory over Kansas City Wyandotte in its sub-state opener. The Firebirds looked sharp, taking a 45-4 lead at halftime, but they will need to be at their best when they face Shawnee Mission West at 7 p.m. Saturday to earn a trip to state. The Firebirds beat SM West by three points in the final week of the regular 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.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Marissa Pope, sr. — Pope was in search for her first sub-state victory in her four-year career, and she wasn’t going to let anybody stop her. She scored a game-high 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including making her first seven shots inside the three-point arc. She just drove past defenders and somehow found ways to score through traffic. Despite playing with four fouls in the fourth quarter because of a few offensive fouls, she played tight defense and knocked out a few dribbles and passes out of bounds. She also had three assists in the first quarter and one steal.

  2. E’lease Stafford, fr. — Stafford has played well in the Lions’ last few games, but I think this was her best all-around effort. She scored 11 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and had three rebounds, three steals and three assists. She was a pest defensively, deflecting numerous inbounds passes and just causing havoc in the backcourt for SM South guards.

  3. Olivia Lemus, so. — Lemus is known for her ability to knock down open three-pointers. Now she’s driving and opposing players are having trouble stopping her. She finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three steals. She’s active on defense and does a good job grabbing deflected passes.

  4. Alexis Boyd, jr. — Boyd missed some shots that she usually makes and she ran into early foul trouble, but that didn’t stop her from making a strong impact. She scored six points and had eight rebounds.

  5. Matia Finley, sr. — The Lions need Finley to crash the glass hard for rebounds each game, and that’s exactly what she did on Thursday. Finley grabbed 10 rebounds, a steal and blocked two shots. Her defense in the low post, along with grabbing rebounds, has helped the Lions’ guards run the floor in transition, setting up easy buckets. Finley also had four points.

  6. Skylar Drum, so. — The 5-foot-6 guard played with a lot of confidence and it paid off with seven points, two rebounds and two steals. Drum had her shot dropping, 3-for-4 from the field, and played tough defense on the perimeter.

  7. Rebecca Finley, sr. — Finley made her first shot of the game in the first quarter, a layup assisted by Lemus. She returned the favor by assisting a layup by Lemus in the second quarter. Finley also had four rebounds.

  8. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin picked up a few minutes in the second quarter. She didn’t shoot the ball or record any stats.

  9. Gracie Reinsch, jr. — Played in the final minute of the first half, but didn't shoot the ball or record any stats.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Saturday at SM Northwest. Record: 7-14.

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

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Lawrence High boys hoops advances in sub-state; Barbee leads player ratings

If there was any question whether Lawrence High's boys basketball team was ready to play in the postseason, the Lions answered that in the first few minutes.

The Lions scored on their first eight possessions in their sub-state opener against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Wednesday, and they never really slowed down. Mix in some tough defense that forced steals, which turned into transition points, and you have the formula for their 79-45 victory at home.

The Cougars were focused on stopping senior Anthony Bonner and junior Justin Roberts, but no matter how successful they were, it doesn't matter when the rest of the Lions are playing at such a high level. As a team, they shot 65 percent from the floor (31-for-48). Six different players had at least eight points: Roberts, Bonner, John Barbee, Price Morgan, Ben Rajewski and Anthony Harvey.

As Tom Keegan wrote in his latest column, all of the players off of the bench looked comfortable and were ready to play. Now the only question is whether the Lions can keep it up and earn their first trip to state since 2008.

Free State's boys basketball season ended with a 50-26 loss to Shawnee Mission North on Wednesday. Though it was a loss in the first-round of sub-state, I think it's safe to say that the Firebirds exceeded most expectations this season with such an inexperienced team. They showed great growth throughout the year, and I think they were one of the last teams anybody wanted to catch at the end of the year in the Sunflower League.

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 boys basketball

  1. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee has pieced together some nice games lately, but I think this was his best one yet. The 6-foot-2 senior was a force on offense, driving for layups and scoring on putbacks. He attacked the glass hard for rebounds and was deflecting passes left and right on defense. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three blocks, two steals and an assist.

  2. Anthony Bonner, sr. — Despite being face-guarded for the majority of the game, that wasn’t going to stop Bonner from dropping a few three-pointers. When defenders began guarding the three-point line, he drove past and had some acrobatic layups and a nice one-handed dunk. He had 12 points and three assists, but it looked like he got banged up a little in the third quarter trying to chase down a long pass.

  3. Justin Roberts, jr. — Roberts was quiet for the first half because of foul trouble, though he knocked down a three in the first quarter. But the third quarter was mostly all Roberts, who was drilling shots, making nice passes for assists and he grabbed a steal to set up a layup for Barbee. The Lions’ point guard scored a team-high 16 points to go along with five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

  4. Ben Rajewski, sr. — After scoring 18 points against the Cougars in their regular season meeting, Rajewski was ready to show them that it was no fluke. He knocked down two threes on his way to eight points. His three-pointer in the second quarter started a 16-2 run that put the game away. He also played solid defense, grabbing two steals. It’s impressive how he always keeps his man in front of him.

  5. Price Morgan, jr. — Along with Barbee, Morgan was the beneficiary of the Cougars focusing on Roberts and Bonner. He knocked down a couple of mid-range jumpers and attacked the basket for layups. He had eight points, four rebounds and a beautiful assist to Applegate on a high-low pass from the free throw line.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — Applegate shot 3-for-4 from the field, his only miss coming on a baseline jumper. He also grabbed four rebounds and a steal. He was focused, and matched up well against SMNW’s height.

  7. Anthony Harvey, jr. — The 5-foot-10 point guard took control of the offense when Roberts was plagued with foul trouble in the second quarter, scoring on a layup-and-the-foul. In the second half, he found his offensive rhythm and finished with eight points.

  8. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou hustled everywhere on the court, stealing entry passes to the post on defense despite playing behind the post player. He finished with two steals and three points. He also went hard into the stands for a loose ball in the first half, and was shaken up briefly.

  9. Kyle Hoffman, sr. — Hoffman was just messing with his defenders, throwing up shot fakes before dribbling past them and passing the ball. He knocked down a triple for the Lions’ final points of the game.

  10. Tae Shorter, sr. — The 5-foot-11 star in the triple jump (4th at state last year) had no problems bringing the ball up the court but missed on his only three-point attempt.

  11. Jackson Mallory, so. — Mallory didn’t attempt a shot when he entered in the fourth quarter, but kept the ball moving on offense.

  12. Kobe Buffalomeat, so. — First time I’ve seen him pick up varsity minutes this year. He entered in the final minutes, but didn’t throw up a shot.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday vs. SM East. Record: 20-1.

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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Lawrence High basketball sweeps SM East; Bonner and Pope lead scoring and player ratings

Enough was enough. Lawrence High's boys basketball players were tired of calls not going their way and their shots not dropping. They just decided to take matters into their own hands.

The Lions were fired up more than usual on Tuesday against Shawnee Mission East, and they rallied back in the second half for a 57-49 road victory. Credit to them for using that energy on the defensive end, which created buckets on offense.

"There was a combination of things that created that momentum for (SM East), but I like the way we responded in the second half," LHS coach Mike Lewis said. "I’m happy with the way we got it done."

Not only did the Lions pick up their first win against the Lancers in four years, but they surpassed last year's win total, improving to 18-1 with Tuesday's victory. Now they'll look to go through the Sunflower League undefeated with a matchup against Free State in the City Showdown on Friday.

Lawrence's girls basketball team has found its groove and have won three straight games after beating SM East, 52-40.

After opening the season against such a tough schedule, the Lions finally have some momentum going their way. They beat the bottom three teams in the league and now they're playing with confidence. It looks like they'll earn the fifth seed in their sub-state bracket, which would mean going on the road to survive. With the way they've played lately, three league wins on the road, I think they're confident enough to not be too worried about 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.

Lawrence High girls basketball

  1. Marissa Pope, sr. — Pope has played plenty of games through foul trouble this year, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive when she continues to make a big impact. The Lions’ point guard picked up her fourth foul with more than seven minutes left, but never left the court and kept the Lions with a double-digit lead. She scored a game-high 17 points, had four rebounds and a steal.

  2. E’lease Stafford, fr. — The 5-foot-10 freshman told LHS coach Jeff Dickson recently that she wanted to step up in these last few games of the regular season, and that’s exactly what she did on Tuesday. Stafford scored 11 points, knocked down two three-pointers in the first quarter, and was a pest defensively, grabbing two steals.

    “We all have high expectations of E’lease and E’lease is a kid who plays hard and works hard,” Dickson said. “She’s extremely unselfish and I’m not even going to say that’s a detriment to her game because she defers to her upperclassmen and she shares the ball and she wants to be a part of stuff. She does a lot of little things that I think a lot of people don’t notice. I think she’s had a fantastic year and as she goes forward, I think the sky is the limit for her.”

  3. Matia Finley, sr. — Finley has been huge for the Lions in the last few weeks with her knack to grab rebounds in traffic. The 6-foot forward had 10 rebounds on Tuesday to go along with six points.

  4. Alexis Boyd, jr. — Boyd made her first three shots, driving to the rim for layups and knocking down mid-range jumpers. She finished with eight points and six rebounds.

  5. Skylar Drum, so. — The 5-foot-6 guard didn’t shoot the ball well, 1-for-6 from the field, but she made so many plays in other areas. She had four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block.

  6. Olivia Lemus, so. — Lemus scored all six of her points in the second quarter, getting behind defenders for layups. She also had two steals and two assists.

  7. Madison McKinney, so. — McKinney was aggressive on the court and brought good energy off of the bench. She didn’t shoot the ball, but grabbed two rebounds, one steal and dished an assist to Stafford for a three-pointer in the first quarter.

  8. Rebecca Finley, sr. — Like her twin sister, Finley has been crashing the glass hard for rebounds in the past few weeks. She had six rebounds on Tuesday, and missed the only shot she took.

  9. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin picked up a few minutes in the second quarter. She grabbed one rebound and was blocked on the only shot she attempted.

  10. Gracie Reinsch, jr. — Reinsch came off of the bench in the first half but didn’t attempt a shot or record any stats.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Friday vs. #9 Free State. Record: 5-13.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Anthony Bonner, sr. — You don’t want to be guarding Bonner when he gets mad. He was fired up in the third quarter and was dominant for the final 12 minutes of the game, scoring 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting. He also turned up the pressure on the defensive end, grabbing a steal and deflecting a few more passes and dribbles. He finished with a game-high 20 points, three rebounds and two assists.

  2. John Barbee, sr. — The 6-foot-1 guard has put together a nice stretch of games lately, and he did it all for the Lions on Tuesday. With Bonner and Justin Roberts being face-guarded, the Lions’ offense ran through Barbee in the first half. He finished with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.

  3. Price Morgan, jr. — The Lancers have a lot of height and Morgan was ready to fight inside. He scored on a few layups, assisted from Barbee and Roberts, but he also wasn’t afraid to attack the rim. He scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished two assists. Those seven rebounds were huge because the Lions had some problems preventing second-chance points early in the second half.

    "Big time teams make big time plays when it comes down to it," Morgan said. "Everybody boxing out and getting that rebound so they can’t get that second shot, that’s what we take pride in, especially in the fourth quarter."

  4. Justin Roberts, jr. — Roberts was limited offensively because of SM East’s face-guard defense against him and his shot wasn’t dropping. But credit to him for fighting through it and contributing in other ways, such as hitting the glass hard for rebounds and playing tight defense. He had seven points, five rebounds and two assists.

  5. Ben Rajewski, sr. — Rajewski dropped a pair of big threes. He gave the LHS its first points with a three on the right wing in the first quarter. Then in the third quarter he swished another. He played solid defense on the perimeter, helped out inside, and did a good job moving the ball, committing zero turnovers.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — The 6-foot-3 forward used his strength off of the bench to make an impact in the low post. He avoided fouls and was aggressive on the defensive glass, grabbing three rebounds in traffic. He missed his only shot from the field and two free throws.

  7. Anthony Harvey, jr. — When Roberts was limited at the end of the first half with foul trouble, Harvey did a good job of running the offense, especially with Bonner being face-guarded. He missed two three-pointers, but he played solid defense and grabbed one rebound and dished an assist to Barbee for a layup.

  8. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou scored on his shot attempt, a layup, after a nice feed from Morgan in the low post.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Free State. Record: 18-1.

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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Lawrence High basketball splits against Olathe Northwest; seniors top player ratings

There's just something special about the second to last home game of the regular season for Lawrence High's boys basketball team.

Last year, the Lions knocked out 10th-ranked Olathe North with a 25-point win. Facing Olathe Northwest on Friday, the Lions threw a few haymakers early and never looked back in a 70-34 victory. It's not like either team is any pushover. The Ravens are now 3-3 in the Sunflower League, with losses to Olathe East and SM North, which are both ranked.

"They had a good feel about them really during pre-game," LHS coach Mike Lewis said of his team. "They were just excited to put on the striped pants and have some fun. They were loose and having fun. We came out and I thought our defense was OK, and I thought our offense was pretty OK, too."

Now the question is whether the Lions can keep their momentum into next week. Ahead are matchups against sixth-ranked SM North on Tuesday and third-ranked Olathe North.

Lawrence's girls basketball team doesn't celebrate moral victories but Friday's 53-48 loss to Olathe Northwest was probably as close as it could get to one.

The Lions bounced back from each punch thrown by the Ravens. They didn't fade away when Northwest went on a few runs by stringing together some three-pointers. A few turnovers and missed shots, though, kept them from picking up a home win.

"My biggest frustration all season long isn't how hard these girls work or the level of commitment," LHS coach Jeff Dickson said. "It's they do all of that at 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday, and then we get to a game and we get a little scared and tentative. ... I think we have shown those flashes that we can compete with anybody that we play."

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. — After the Ravens went on a big run to open the second half, Pope brought the Lions right back into the game with seven points in the third quarter. Pope finished with 14 points, two rebounds and three assists. But even more important than her offense was the defense she played against Olathe Northwest senior point guard Shaleia Jamison, who averages 16 points per game. Pope denied the ball after the first pass and held Jamison without a shot in the first half. Jamison only made one shot, which came in transition when Pope wasn’t on her.

  2. Alexis Boyd, jr. — Boyd was really strong against Olathe Northwest’s 2-3 zone defense. With a nice turnaround jumper, she scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. She also drew two charges on defense.

    “I thought offensively we shared the ball nicely and did a good job,” LHS coach Jeff Dickson said. “Alexis Boyd put together a really nice night for us. She’s really coming along.”

  3. Matia Finley, sr. — Facing a team that took 46 three-pointers, it’s hard to grab rebounds because so many of them go long after hitting the rim. But that didn’t affect Finley, who grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. She was a big key for the Lions, not allowing the Ravens to score second-chance points. Finley also had six points and a steal.

  4. E’lease Stafford, fr. — Judging by the box score, Stafford scored two points on 1 of 7 shooting, scoring the first points of the game by beating Olathe Northwest’s defense down the court. But she actually made a huge impact on offense, helping move the ball along the perimeter for open shots. She had two assists, four rebounds and a steal.

  5. Skylar Drum, so. — The 5-foot-6 guard couldn’t get her shot to fall, scoring three points on 1 of 5 shooting. But she had three rebounds and an assist, and she played solid defense on the perimeter.

  6. Olivia Lemus, so. — Lemus scored all five of her points in the second quarter, starting a 12-0 LHS run to end the first half. She also had five rebounds and an assist.

  7. Rebecca Finley, sr. — Finley was the first player off of the bench, and she brought good energy to the court. She scored two points in the first quarter on a layup and she had two rebounds.

  8. Madison McKinney, so. — The 5-foot-4 guard scored on a putback before the first quarter buzzer. In the third quarter, she had a nice assist to Boyd for a layup.

  9. Asia Goodwin, fr. — Goodwin brought good energy off of the bench and she grabbed two rebounds. She missed all three shots she took.

    — Next up: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. SM North. Record: 3-13.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Anthony Bonner, sr. — When Bonner is making shots, there’s not much opposing teams can do but just sit back and watch. The 6-foot-2 senior was in rhythm throughout the night, scoring a game-high 21 points, including going 4 for 7 from behind the three-point line. He also had two buzzer beaters, four rebounds and an assist. In the third quarter, he went 4 for 4 from the field for 12 points.

  2. Justin Roberts, jr. — Roberts gave the Lions a lift in the first quarter, scoring six points and dishing an assist. He finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. When the Ravens went on a quick 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter, Roberts responded with five points to put an end to any comeback bid.

  3. Ben Rajewski, sr. — After scoring 18 points on Tuesday, Rajewski opened the scoring with a putback before knocking down a three-pointer a few minutes later. He did a good job digging on Olathe Northwest’s post players and closing out on shooters, and he drew a charge in the fourth quarter.

  4. Price Morgan, jr. — Morgan heated up in the third quarter after sitting with some foul trouble in the first half. He scored seven of his nine points in the period, blocked a shot, grabbed a steal and had a nice and-1 finish.

  5. John Barbee, sr. — Barbee couldn’t get his shot to drop, but played stellar defense and started a few transition buckets by leading the Lions down the court. He finished with four points, six rebounds and one steal.

  6. Logan Applegate, sr. — Facing some physical opposing post players, Applegate played really well, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds. He also did a really good job playing interior defense without fouling.

  7. Anthony Harvey, jr. — In one of my favorite plays of the season, Harvey dove head-first out of bounds trying to chase down a long rebound with a 30-point lead and 1:02 remaining. Incredible effort. A minute before that, Harvey knocked down a three from the top of the arc.

  8. Fred Brou, jr. — Brou scored on a smooth hook shot late in the third quarter. He played strong defense, denying the ball in the post.

  9. Kyle Hoffman, sr. — I watched him shooting a few hours before the game with headphones on and he was just draining threes. After the student section chanted his name, prompting his coaches to put him in the game, he delivered with a deep three before the final buzzer.

    “A guy like Kyle Hoffman and a guy like Tae Shorter, those guys fight every day in practice,” LHS coach Mike Lewis said. “They work extremely hard. They’re very loyal teammates. When they get in the game, I want them to play hard and take advantage of the situation they’re given.”

  10. Jackson Mallory, so. — I heard Mallory made nine three-pointers in the junior-varsity game beforehand, so no wonder his hot shooting continued in the final minutes when he drained a three in front of the student section. He also had a rebound and a steal.

  11. Tae Shorter, sr. — Shorter showed off some nice crossover dribbles at point guard in the final minutes. He scored on a free throw and grabbed a rebound.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. #6 SM North. Record: 15-1.

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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