Free State girls cruise in sub-state opener
The Kansas 6A state tournament has been on the minds of Free State High’s girls basketball players all season, and the Firebirds came one step closer to reaching it after disposing of Kansas City Wyandotte, 61-12, Thursday in the first round of sub-state action at FSHS.
“We came out in our pre-game warmup and did a nice job,” FSHS coach Bryan Duncan said. “We were focused and ready to go. Regardless of opponent and situation, you’ve got to be prepared, and we were prepared tonight.”
The No. 2-seeded Firebirds (17-4) limited the Bulldogs (1-15) to two baskets from Monique Hunt on the way to building a 45-4 halftime advantage. FSHS sophomore Madison Piper scored all of her team-high 13 points in the first half, and also dished out five assists, nabbed five steals, blocked two shots and grabbed two rebounds.
“This is a game where you want to get other people touches because it will get them going and ready for the next game,” Piper said. “You know you’ll get your shots, but other people don’t necessarily always get theirs, so you want to make that happen for them.”
Senior Sarah Coversup joined Piper in double figures with 11 points. The Firebirds’ top two scorers sat on the bench for the entirety of second half to rest up for Saturday’s sub-state championship match-up against Shawnee Mission West.
While Piper was excited about the win, she was equally ecstatic about watching her teammates have success. One of Piper’s assists went to junior Peyton Brown, who muscled in a layup while getting fouled.
“That was so exciting. That was my favorite play of the game because Peyton came off an injury and she’s been working really hard at practice,” Piper said. “To see her get that play and have such a big play like she did, it’s one of the best feelings.”
Brown tore her ACL last summer and has had a long road of recovery leading up to Thursday night’s game. The junior forward made the most of her minutes by scoring eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and collecting four rebounds.
“It took six months of physical therapy, so a lot of working on having to strengthen my knee and the quad muscles around it,” Brown said. “It took me about three months to get back to running and almost four months to get back to shooting again. It’s been quite the journey, but it’s over.”
Eight different Firebirds scored to help out in the rout of Wyandotte. FSHS stifled the Bulldogs defensively as well, with half of Wyandotte’s points coming on two banked three-pointers from Ce-anna Kirby in the third quarter.
The Firebirds will remain home for the sub-state title showdown with No. 3-seeded SM West (13-8). FSHS battled for a 55-52 win over the Vikings on Feb. 24 at SMW, and the Firebirds know that they’ll have their work cut out for them in order to earn a state tournament berth for the first time since 2010.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Duncan said. “We just played them about a week and a half ago and it was a back-and-forth game, and we won at the very end.”
The Firebirds and Vikings will tip off at 7 p.m. Saturday at FSHS. The winner will move on to the first round of the state tournament Thursday at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita.
FREE STATE (61)
Morgan Gantz 0-3 0-0 0, Cameryn Thomas 3-3 0-0 6, Jaycie Bishop 2-4 0-0 5, Adriana Jadlow 4-5 0-3 8, Madison Piper 5-8 0-0 13, Kierstin Hutfles 0-2 1-2 1, Sofia Jadlow 1-3 0-0 2, Sarah Coversup 5-9 1-2 11, Peyton Brown 4-7 0-2 8, Calli Bowen 0-2 0-0 0, Hannah Shoemaker 3-4 1-2 7. Total 27-50 5-13 61.
Chong Yang 0-2 0-0 0, Alisha Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Ariana Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Monique Hunt 2-14 0-2 4, Ce-anna Kirby 3-7 0-0 8. Total 5-25 0-2 12.
Free State 30 15 14 2 — 61
Wyandotte 4 0 8 0 — 12
Three-pointers: Free State- 4-9 (Piper 3, Bishop) Wyandotte- 2-5 (Kirby 2). Turnovers: Free State- 6 Wyandotte- 20. Fouled out- none.