LHS ‘runs out of gas’ in 47-37 home loss to Shawnee Mission East
Lawrence High came out with high energy and pace, but a tough fourth quarter led to a 47-37 loss to Shawnee Mission East Tuesday night. Junior forward Ozi Ajekwu led the Lions with 16 points.
For weeks now, Lawrence High coach Jeff Dickson has implored junior forward Ozi Ajekwu to be more aggressive in the paint and call for the ball more often. On Tuesday, he got his wish.
“I thought she was very, very aggressive,” Dickson said. “She kept us in the game early. Defensively, she was phenomenal.”
The Lions (5-10, 1-6 Sunflower League) — who were returning to their home court for the first time since Jan. 14 against Olathe Northwest — quickly fell into a groove. Ajekwu took the opening tip for a layup and senior guard Ella Stewart got a floater to go.
But after LHS took an early 4-2 lead, the offense for both sides cooled off; LHS took an 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Even though it was low-scoring, the Lions set the tone with their interior defense, forcing six SM East (7-8, 2-5 Sunflower League) turnovers.
The second quarter started out slow, with the first basket coming at the 4:49 mark. Lancers senior guard Camryn Gossick scored a layup after an LHS turnover, which was answered by a 3-pointer from LHS sophomore guard Layla Harjo.
Senior forward Paiden Bell also got a second-chance layup to go after a miss from Stewart. And even with two made free throws from SM East junior guard Reese Althouse, the Lions looked to go on a run to end the half.
Ajekwu scored a layup and later a free throw, and freshman guard Amaya Marshall got a crucial steal and scored a layup in transition. Granted, Gossick hit a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left in the half, but the Lions still held an 18-15 lead at halftime.
It was a bit of a sloppy start to the second half for both sides, with early turnovers for travelling and a 3-second violation. Althouse also scored a layup off an early steal just seconds into the third quarter.
“We talked extensively at halftime, if we’re going to foul someone, make sure they don’t make the layup too. Or, preferably, take a charge,” Dickson said. “We got a little over-aggressive on the perimeter when we didn’t necessarily need to be. So they got on a roll there.”
A couple minutes later, Ajekwu got another second-chance layup to go. But after a 15-foot jumper from SM East senior Kathleen Stanley and a layup from senior forward Sydney Crane, the Lancers took a 21-20 lead — their first of the game.
That lead grew to 27-22 after layups from Althouse and Stanley. Harjo and Stewart responded with 3-pointers to stop the bleeding for LHS.
Gossick responded with another three and LHS freshman guard Hailey Ramirez was later fouled at the buzzer. Ramirez’s two free throws cut the lead to 32-30 at the end of the third quarter.
LHS managed to cut the lead to 34-33 midway through the fourth quarter, but SM East never surrendered the lead as the Lancers ended the game on a 13-4 run.
A large component of the momentum swing was his players getting tired in the second half, according to Dickson. Especially with Ajekwu.
“She slowed down a little bit and we started getting messy with the ball,” Dickson said. “We’ve got to find some other people to step up. I mean, until we can start hitting outside shots, they can put two or three people on her.”
Granted, it didn’t help that LHS was down usual starters freshman guard Serenity Keo and senior guard Sophie DeWitt. Given the circumstances, though, Dickson said he was happy with his team’s effort — especially Marshall and Ramirez’s defense on Althouse (12 points) and Stanley (11 points).
“If we ran out of gas, that’s on me,” Dickson said. “I need to do a better job so we don’t have that situation come up. But I was proud of the way the girls competed all night long. I thought they took a lot of steps forward.”
LHS will next face Olathe East at 5:30 p.m. Friday at home.
Lawrence High (37)
Ozi Ajekwu 6-13 4-8 16, Hailey Ramirez 1-7 4-4 6, Layla Harjo 2-7 0-0 6, Ella Stewart 2-7 0-0 5, Amaya Marshall 1-6 0-1 2, Paiden Bell 1-6 0-0 2, Lexi Dutcher 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 13-48 8-13 37.
Shawnee Mission East (47)
Camryn Gossick 8-14 4-6 22, Reese Althouse 2-9 8-9 12, Kathleen Stanley 5-12 0-1 11, Sydney Crane 1-6 0-0 2, Sarah Bingham 0-2 0-0 0, Hanna Robinett 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-44 12-16 47.
Lawrence High 8 10 12 7 — 37
Shawnee Mission East 6 9 17 15 — 47
3-point goals: LHS 3-20 (Harjo, Stewart); SM East 3-12 (Gossick, Stanley). Turnovers: LHS 17, SM East 16.