Red-hot FSHS boys roll
Overland Park ? Free State High’s boys basketball players struggled to shoot the ball in a double-digit loss last week. They had no such problems on the road Tuesday against Shawnee Mission South.
The Firebirds played suffocating defense and shot 63 percent from the field in a 50-30 victory.
After taking an 11-point halftime lead, the Firebirds opened the second half on a 6-0 run with two buckets from senior point guard Andrew Keating and a layup by junior Hunter Gudde. That led to an eventual 17-point lead entering the fourth quarter, after Free State shot 5-of-7 from the field and forced the Raiders into tough shots and a few turnovers.
“That’s certainly the most complete game we’ve played all year long,” FSHS coach Chuck Law said. “Both ends of the court. Offensively, we executed very well. Defensively, other than a couple of hiccups here and there, we were sticking to game plan, rebounding the ball, challenging shooters.
“I couldn’t be more happy for our guys,” Law added. “That was a great team win tonight.”
The Raiders (9-8) opened with a 5-0 lead, but the Firebirds responded with a 19-2 run over the next nine minutes. Senior guards Weston Hack and Justin Narcomey started the stretch with three-pointers, and sophomore Sloan Thomsen added a buzzer-beating three to end the first quarter.
Hack scored nine of his game-high 13 points in the stretch, and Narcomey added five points.
“Friday night, we were pretty cold. We couldn’t hit a shot,” Narcomey said. “Today, we knew we had to come out. They’re a good team. Playing on the road on a Tuesday night is pretty tough. We just executed our stuff, got good shots and made them.”
The Firebirds (9-7) were methodical with their offense, aware of SM South’s tendency to double-team ball handlers when they pick up their dribble. They weren’t afraid to pass the ball around the court, looking for better shots, and it paid off with 17-of-27 shooting from the field, including 13-of-16 on shots inside of the three-point line.
After the Raiders cut the score to 19-14 with 2:47 left in the first half following a 7-0 run, the Firebirds responded with points on their next three possessions, four points by Gudde and a layup from Keating.
“We can’t get in a running match with most anybody who we play,” Law said. “In terms of being disciplined and running some clock sometimes and passing up an OK shot for a better shot, I thought we did an outstanding job tonight.”
Defensively, the Firebirds played the majority of the contest in a 2-3 zone, limiting driving lanes for the Raiders and contesting three-point looks. SM South shot 1-for-16 from behind the three-point line.
“We kind of knew who could shoot and who could drive,” Keating said. “We kind of allowed the drivers to play out of their comfort zone, and we made them shooters. I think that worked for us.”
The Raiders pulled within 13 points early in the fourth quarter, but Free State answered with a few minute-long possessions that ended with layups by Hack and Gudde.
“In terms of carrying out a game plan and sticking to it, and being disciplined, that was a great all-around game for us,” Law said. “Probably as good of a game as a Free State team has played in a lot of years.”
The Firebirds will play fifth-ranked Olathe East, in a rematch of their 53-46 loss last month, at 7 p.m. Friday at FSHS.
Free State (50)
Andrew Keating 3-4 2-2 8, Weston Hack 5-6 2-3 13, Justin Narcomey 3-5 2-2 10, Hunter Gudde 4-6 3-4 11, Jack Raney 0-1 0-0 0, Chrision Wilburn 0-0 2-2 2, Sloan Thomsen 1-4 0-0 3, Jay Dineen 1-1 1-2 3, Shannon Cordes 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Holland 0-0 0-0 0, Darian Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Kristian Rawls 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-27 12-15 50.
Shawnee Mission South (30)
Brian Harness 1-4 1-1 3, Anei Anei 4-10 0-1 8, Brady Anderson 1-8 0-0 3, CJ Hill 3-8 0-1 6, AJ Webster 0-2 0-0 0, Bailey Obersteadt 0-1 1-2 1, Nicolay Skvortsov 2-2 1-4 5, Yor Anei 0-1 2-4 2, Jake Mankin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 12-37 5-12 30.
Free State 13 12 12 13 — 50
SM South 7 7 6 10 — 30
Three-point field goals: Free State 4-11 (Narcomey 2, Hack, Thomsen); SM South 1-16 (Anderson). Turnovers: Free State 11, SM South 8.