Late surge lifts Free State girls
Holding on to a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Free State High’s girls basketball players just flipped a switch. There weren’t any magic words said in the huddle. They just knew what this game meant to each other.
The Firebird seniors wanted to win on Senior Night, and the underclassmen wanted to do anything they could to help make it happen. After a quick start to the fourth quarter, the Firebirds never looked back in a 49-43 victory over Olathe East at FSHS.
Free State opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run in just over a minute. Sophomore Madison Piper started the spurt with a lay-up, then tossed a full-court assist to senior forward Adriana Jadlow for a layup. Senior forward Sarah Coversup then followed with a three-pointer at the top of the arc.
“We kept talking about it the whole game, ‘Hey, we’re going to go on a run at some point,'” FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said. “That’s exactly what happened. We went on a little mini-run, (8-0), which in that game was big. That extended (the lead) to 10 and really just gave us that finishing touch.”
The Hawks (11-7) didn’t back down, hitting a few timely three-pointers and jump shots to pull back within six points with 3:38 left.
But Free State (14-4, ranked No. 9 in Class 6A) always had an answer. Coversup scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, fighting for space inside to make layups and hitting free throws.
“I think that we realized that it was Senior Night and that it was really time for us to start playing our game again,” senior forward Hannah Shoemaker said. “Usually after halftime, we kind of slow down a little bit. I think in the fourth quarter, we were like, ‘Hey, we’re slowing down. Let’s get back up.’ I think that’s what we did.”
Piper led the Firebirds offensively for most of the game, despite tough defensive pressure from a few of the Olathe East guards.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore scored Free State’s first seven points of the second half, scoring on a layup-and-the-foul and knocking down two jump shots.
“I kind of just shot the ball, and it just went in,” said Piper, who finished with a game-high 19 points and three blocks. “They were guarding me so tight, hands all on me. I have to have confidence in my shot, and I did, and it went in.”
In the first quarter, Shoemaker helped the Firebirds to a 12-8 lead by scoring on a putback and a layup.
She was honored after the game with fellow seniors Coversup, Jadlow, point guard Morgan Gantz and Lexci Kimball.
“My adrenaline was sky-high,” Shoemaker said. “I was just going. I don’t know what happened. It was fun.”
The Hawks had a brief lead late in the second quarter and trailed by just one point midway through the third quarter. This time, junior guard Hannah Walter helped keep the Firebirds in front with a layup-and-the-foul bucket.
“We need to play close games late in the season,” Duncan said. “That felt like a sub-state-final-type of game.”
The Firebirds have their eyes set on doing damage once sub-state play rolls around, but Friday they were just happy to grab a victory for their seniors.
“It’s so exciting,” Piper said. “I can’t explain it. There’s no better feeling.”
OLATHE EAST (43)
Molly Taitt 2-6 1-2 5, Caroline Hoppock 2-11 0-2 6, Sydney Wilson 5-9 0-0 11, Cameron Kincaid 2-3 4-4 8, Lauren Kirk 3-8 1-2 7, Valencia Scott 3-7 0-0 6, Carolyn Schmidt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 6-10 43.
FREE STATE (49)
Morgan Gantz 0-0 0-0 0, Adriana Jadlow 2-5 0-1 4, Madison Piper 8-14 3-4 19, Sarah Coversup 4-8 7-9 16, Hannah Shoemaker 2-3 0-0 4, Jaycie Bishop 0-3 3-4 3, Hannah Walter 1-2 1-1 3. Totals 17-35 14-19 49.
Olathe East 8 10 10 15 — 43
Free State 12 7 12 18 — 49
Three-point field goals: Olathe East 3-12 (Hoppock 2, Wilson); Free State 1-5 (Coversup). Turnovers: Olathe East 9, Free State 11.