Kris Daniels provides spark off bench, FSHS boys knock off Olathe West

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Free State's Kris Daniels (0) celebrates his points in the second quarter of a Jan. 7 game against Shawnee Mission South.

Kris Daniels started the fourth quarter by draining a wide-open 3-pointer. Moments later, he finished a layup through contact, turned towards his teammates, and let out a yell.

The momentum of Tuesday’s game at Free State had shifted for good thanks to the Firebird junior.

In addition to playing tough defense all game, Daniels scored 14 points – 12 of which came in the fourth quarter – to help lead Free State past Olathe West 64-52 in a top 10 matchup on the Firebirds’ home court.

“It felt good,” Daniels said. “As soon as I shot that three, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m on.”

The Firebirds led by seven through three quarters and Daniels helped extend that lead to 12, 50-38, with a hot start to the quarter.

Free State (11-4, 6-1 Sunflower League) led almost the entire game and was carried by a strong defensive effort against a high-powered offensive team led by Cougar Downing, who scored a game-high 19 points but got up just 12 shots.

“Cougar is one of the best players in the state, but we knew we had to limit the other guys,” Free State coach Sam Stroh said. “For the most part, I thought we did pretty well.”

Senior DK Middleton led the Firebirds with 18 points, which included a thunderous two-handed dunk in the final minute to put the finishing touches on the double-digit win. Sophomore Mozae Downing-Rivers added 16 points. But it was the bench, led by Daniels and Dash Hawkins, that sparked Free State.

“We got guys coming off the bench bringing energy,” Daniels said. “None of us are scared, that’s the big thing.”

After a back-and-forth first quarter, Downing made an and-one layup and converted the free throw to bring Olathe West (11-4, 6-1 Sunflower League) within one, 13-12. Later in the quarter, Downing-Rivers put up four points in less than 10 seconds and Middleton sank a pair of free throws to end the half and give the Firebirds a 29-20 lead.

Free State kept Olathe West at arm’s length the entire second half as it cruised to an impressive home win in a top ten tilt.

“Team defense was the key to the game,” Stroh said. “That’s something we didn’t do last week against Olathe East, but tonight I thought we did a better job of it.”

Free State will travel to Shawnee Mission East at 7 p.m. Friday.

Free State (64)

Mozae Downing-Rivers 6-8 4-4 16, Kris Daniels 4-6 4-5 14, Ethan Lincoln 0-3 1-2 1, Wyatt Durland 0-0 1-2 1, DK Middleton 5-8 8-8 18, Miles Branch 2-6 1-2 5, Andrew Piper 2-2 0-0 4, Alyus Wisdom 1-1 0-0 2, Dash Hawkins 0-1 0-0 0, Olin Yoder 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 21-39 19-22 64.

Olathe West (52)

Austin Hashagen 3-8 1-1 8, Tommy Faseru 2-6 2-2 6, Sam Nicodemus 0-4 2-3 2, Carter Lichtsinn 4-9 0-0 9, Cougar Downing 6-12 4-5 19, Jon Jenkins 1-1 0-0 2, Aidan Sturdivan 1-3 0-0 3, Mike Anderson 1-1 0-0 3, Brennan Connell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-45 9-11 52.

Free State 13 16 9 26 – 64

Olathe West 9 11 11 21 – 52

3-point goals: Free State 3-10 (Daniels 2-4, Lincoln 0-2, Middleton 0-1, Hawkins 0-1, Yoder 1-2); Olathe West 7-22 (Hashagen 1-4, Faseru 0-3, Nicodemus 0-3, Lichtsinn 1-2, Downing 3-6, Sturdivan 1-2, Anderson 1-1, Connell 0-1). Turnovers: Free State 7, Olathe West 7. Fouled out: None


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