Scoring drought dooms Firebirds
Layups, open three-pointers, jumpers. Name it, and Free State’s boys basketball team couldn’t hit it during a stretch that began in the first quarter and lasted into the second half Friday night, costing the Firebirds any chance of earning a victory against Olathe South.
After hitting the first four field-goal attempts of the night, Free State’s shooting touch disappeared for more than 14 minutes of game clock, as the Firebirds missed 14 straight shots from the field in a 63-51 loss at FSHS.
Junior FSHS forward Hunter Gudde scored in transition after a Weston Hack steal with under five minutes left in the first quarter, but the Firebirds’ next field goal didn’t come until senior Justin Narcomey gathered his own miss and put the ball through the net with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Free State missed all eight field goals in the second quarter, when it scored a single point, on a Gudde free throw.
“You get outscored 13-1 in the second quarter and you lose by 12 points,” Firebirds coach Chuck Law said after the game. “I’m not really excellent at math, but that seems like a 12-point difference.”
The frustrated coach noticed a common theme during the exasperating stretch, as FSHS tried to run its sets and repeatedly failed to execute.
“We were so lackadaisical with our cutting. We just weren’t crisp through that whole stretch,” Law said. “I don’t know that anybody necessarily wanted the ball to go make a play.”
Gudde figured it had to be the coldest the Firebirds (8-7) have been since having offensive issues a couple months back.
“We started out that way this season,” he said after scoring 15 points, tying Hack for the team lead, “but we’ve grown from it, and we’ve been hitting shots lately for the past four games. We just didn’t hit them tonight.”
The Falcons (7-7) matched up well with FSHS, which Law expected. He said O-South’s players resemble Free State’s in their ability to shoot, pass or drive and described the visitors as “a hair” more athletic overall. The Falcons, however, executed, with seniors Taylor Filbert and Jayden Davis (15 points apiece) leading the way.
O-South made 18 of 31 field goals, and when Free State had to foul, in catch-up mode, the Falcons hit 20 of 23 free throws in the second half, including 14 of 17 in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a team that’s going to struggle coming from behind,” Law said after FSHS got as close as six points with 2:29 to play in the fourth, following a Hack drive and three-point play. “We don’t have a lot of firepower. We don’t have an ability necessarily to turn people over.”
Down 39-27 entering the fourth, Free State hit eight of 11 shots in the final eight minutes, and sophomores Sloan Thomsen and Jay Dineen each made a three-pointer.
“We started too late,” Gudde said. “We should’ve been out from the start as hard as we could go. But we started out slow and just didn’t play our best defense. That’s why we lost.”
The setback came after Free State had won three games in a row for the first time this season. Law said the players may have read too many of their press clippings.
“We hadn’t laid an egg in a while,” the coach added. “Maybe we were due for one, and it came tonight.”
OLATHE SOUTH (63)
Tyler Zinn 3-5 7-8 13, Taylor Filbert 7-10 0-0 15, Jayden Davis 4-6 4-4 14, Mat Baldeh 2-4 4-7 8, Zack Fields 1-4 6-6 8, Brian Sullivan 1-2 0-0 2, Cole Browning 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Well 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 18-31 23-27 63.
FREE STATE (51)
Andrew Keating 1-2 4-6 6, Weston Hack 6-12 1-2 15, Justin Narcomey 1-6 2-2 4, Hunter Gudde 5-7 5-7 15, Jack Raney 0-0 0-0 0, Sloan Thomsen1-3 0-0 3, Chrision Wilburn 0-0 0-0 0, Jay Dineen 2-4 0-2 5, Shannon Cordes 0-1 0-0 0, Darian Lewis 1-1 1-3 3, Caleb Holland 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-34 13-22 51.
O-South 10 13 16 24 — 63
Free State 11 1 15 24 — 51
Three-point goals: O-South 4-12 (Davis 3, Filbert); FSHS 4-16 (Hack 2, Thomsen, Dineen). Fouled out: FSHS: Hack. Turnovers: O-South 10, FSHS 12.