Free State girls surrender late lead in 66-62 loss to Olathe West
photo by: Carter Gaskins
It’s been an up-and-down season for Free State girls basketball, and Tuesday was very nearly a high point against No. 4 Olathe West.
Free State counterpunched Olathe West all night but couldn’t answer the Owls’ fourth-quarter flurry, as the Firebirds fell 66-62 at home Tuesday night.
No. 4 Olathe West (12-3, 7-0 Sunflower League) used an 11-2 spurt to start the fourth quarter to take the lead after a back-and-forth game. Still, Free State head coach Nick Wood sees plenty of positives on a night where his team went toe-to-toe with one of the state’s top teams.
“Hopefully when they reflect on tonight, they realize what they have in them,” Wood said of his team. “They have it in them to be successful in winning basketball games. It’s not too late. It’s been hard and it’s been difficult, but if we continue to play with that kind of energy, we will have successful moments.”
After three consecutive Free State turnovers, Olathe West extended its lead to 62-55 with under one-minute remaining. But a furious rally by Free State cut the deficit to two before Olathe West’s Bailey Collar, the Sunflower League’s fourth-leading scorer hit a pair of free throws to seal the Firebirds’ fate.
Collar had 20 points, topped only by Free State senior Caely Kesten, who scored a game-high 23 points.
Just like the fourth quarter, Free State (6-9, 1-6 Sunflower League) had to battle back in each of the first three quarters.
The Firebirds turned the ball over on their first three possessions and the Owls jumped out to an early 6-2 lead. Free State settled in and managed to play Olathe West to an 11-11 tie after one quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, with Olathe West scoring the first seven points of the period to take an 18-11 lead. The Firebirds battled back, but a layup of an offensive rebound and then another off a steal by Olathe West’s Kenzie Hart gave the Owls a 22-18 lead.
Once again, the Firebirds responded, and eventually took a 27-26 lead with 2:30 remaining in the half after consecutive baskets by Shannon Clarke. The Firebirds eventually extended that lead to 31-27 heading into the locker room.
However, sparked by a 3-pointer by Bailey Collar, the league’s fourth-leading scorer, Olathe West went on an 11-2 run to take a 38-33 lead and force a Free State timeout.
The Firebirds, like they did all game, kept their composure and fought back with a run of their own to take a 43-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
However, the Owls went on an 11-2 run to take the lead for good.
“I was really proud of the girls,” Wood said. “We fought back and continued to battle throughout the game. We gave ourselves a chance to hang around and compete in the end.”
Free State will travel to Shawnee Mission East at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Free State (62)
Evy Harrell 4-7 0-0 9, Shannon Clarke 5-12 2-3 12, Daeci Jallite-Walker 0-2 4-6 4, Caely Kesten 8-13 6-6 23, Anna McIntire 4-8 4-6 12, Joy Nunoo 1-4 2. Totals: 22-46 16-21 62
Olathe West (66)
Anaiya Uhde 1-2 0-0 2, Kenzie Hart 4-11 4-8 12, Michelle Anderson 6-10 5-7 17, Allysa Moore 4-5 0-0 8, Macy Glover 0-0 1-2 1, Alexis Newman 2-4 2-2 6, Bailey Collar 6-12 6-6 20. Totals: 23-46 18-24 66.
Olathe West 11 16 15 24 – 66
Free State 11 20 12 19 – 62
3 point goals: Free State 2-12 (Harrell 1-1, Clarke 0-4, Jallite-Walker 0-1, Kesten 1-4, Nunoo 0-2); Olathe West 2-13 (Uhde 0-1, Hart 0-2, Anderson 0-2, Moore 0-1, Newman 0-1, Collar 2-6). Turnovers: Free State 17, Olathe West 15. Fouled out: Free State, Harrell.