FSHS boys can’t catch O-East

Free State High’s boys basketball team knew what to expect out of Olathe East on Friday night.

After suffering a seven-point loss against the Hawks last month, the Firebirds weren’t surprised by anything they saw. But Free State just couldn’t hit enough shots down the stretch in a 52-44 loss in the rematch at FSHS.

The Firebirds only trailed by three points with about four minutes remaining before the Hawks, the fifth-ranked team in Class 6A, went on 7-0 run over the next 90 seconds. Free State missed three straight shots, and O-East junior forward Cedric Roland and junior guard Cameron Hunter made back-to-back buckets before the Firebirds started fouling.

The Hawks (13-5) then made 12 of their final 14 free throws.

“We just had a couple shots not fall,” FSHS senior guard Weston Hack said. “You know they’re big, their guards are pretty good, and they sunk their free throws down the stretch. When you’re playing from behind against a team like that, and they make their free throws, there’s not really much you can do.”

The Firebirds (9-8) trailed by seven points midway through the third quarter before going on a 9-1 run to take a 29-28 lead. They scored on five straight possessions via two layups by senior guard Justin Narcomey, a layup and free throw by Hack and a driving layup from senior point guard Andrew Keating.

O-East regained the lead when Hunter tossed the ball off Hack’s back on a baseline inbounds play and converted a layup-and-the-foul.

“We know what they do,” Narcomey said. “We like beating them, but tonight just wasn’t the night. We knew they were big and athletic. We just had to stop them, and some possessions we did, and some possessions we didn’t.”

Narcomey led the Firebirds in a fast-paced first quarter with eight points, drilling two three-pointers and sneaking behind defenders for a layup. Gudde also added five points in the first period, including a buzzer-beating putback on his own miss.

“I knew it was Senior Night, and I had to get off hot,” said Narcomey, who finished with 12 points. “I had a lot of family and friends here. I got off to a good start. I just wish I could have kept that up through the game.”

Free State shot 6-for-12 in the first quarter, but trailed for most of it because the Hawks couldn’t be kept away from offensive rebounds. O-East scored its first six points on second-chance opportunities.

“For the most part, we played at the pace we wanted to play at,” said Hack, who scored a team-high 14 points, all in the second half. “They’re just big. We didn’t do a phenomenal job keeping them off of the glass, and they got a lot of second-chance points, and I think that’s the difference in the game.”

The Firebirds knew they had the Hawks where they wanted near the end of the game, they just couldn’t get the stops or buckets they needed.

“They didn’t necessarily play better than us,” Gudde said. “We couldn’t get anything to fall. … We got to the basket. We got whatever we wanted. We just didn’t hit shots. That’s the key to the game.”

The Firebirds will face William Chrisman (Mo.) at 6 tonight at FSHS.

Olathe East (52)

Javion Blake 2-5 5-5 10, Dion Union 1-6 2-2 4, Cedric Roland 4-6 2-5 10, Cameron Hunter 3-5 4-6 10, Josiah Talbert 6-13 2-2 16, Jack Hiller 0-1 2-2 2, Kameron Barnes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 17-22 52.

Free State (44)

Andrew Keating 2-5 0-0 4, Weston Hack 5-10 3-4 14, Caleb Holland 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Narcomey 5-8 0-0 12, Hunter Gudde 3-9 3-4 10, Jack Raney 0-3 0-0 0, Sloan Thomsen 0-4 0-2 0, Jay Dineen 1-3 0-0 2, Chrision Wilburn 1-1 0-0 2, Shannon Cordes 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Pavlyak 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-43 6-10 44.

Olathe East 15 8 8 21 — 52

Free State 15 5 9 15 — 44

Three-point goals: Olathe East 3-15 (Talbert 2, Blake); Free State 4-17 (Narcomey 2, Hack, Gudde). Fouled out: Narcomey. Turnovers: Olathe East 4, Free State 6.