LHS loses a nailbiter on the road to Gardner Edgerton 54-50

LHS junior forward Ozi Ajekwu (23) and Gardner Edgerton forward Kiersten Markos (52) prepare for the opening tip. Gardner Edgerton defeated LHS 54-50 on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Gardner — If there’s something positive to takeaway — or be encouraged by — from Lawrence High’s (4-5, 1-3 Sunflower League) tough 54-50 loss to Gardner Edgerton (2-6, 1-3 Sunflower League), it’s the resilience of the Lions.

“We’ve been in this situation earlier in the season where we’ve pulled apart a little bit or hung our heads, and I like that we got a couple haymakers thrown at us and we took them,” LHS coach Jeff Dickson said. “We fought back and we did it the right way.

And we gave ourselves a chance to win, on the road, against a team that desperately wanted to win.”

Part of that came from late shots just not falling, losing senior guard Sophie DeWitt to an apparent knee injury in the third quarter and consistently fighting back against the Blazers’ offensive runs.

The Blazers in particular relied on outside shooting, especially in the first half. Granted, Gardner Edgerton shot a 4-of-11 clip in the first half (7-19 total), but the Blazers were still determined to spread the floor as much as possible.

However, Gardner Edgerton started the game inside as sophomore guard Kaelin Platt took the opening tip down the other end for a layup. That was one of few transition opportunities in the first quarter, mostly due to just three turnovers (2 for Gardner Edgerton and 1 for LHS).

In half-court sets, the Blazers loved the corner 3-pointer, especially from out of bounds passes. Both Platt and junior forward Sofia Semon connected from deep from out-of-bounds plays.

For LHS, the Lions didn’t hit their first field goal until midway through the quarter when junior forward Ozi Ajekwu got a layup to go. However, defense and a late 3-pointer from freshman guard Amaya Marshall tied things up 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.

Shots weren’t falling all night for LHS, partly due to Ajekwu getting doubled early and often as well as missing free throws. The Lions shot 9-27 from the free throw line.

“We’re still trying to work that stuff out — what a good shot is, what a great shot is,” Dickson said. “I feel like we’re making progress, but in our league, making progress (could mean) you’re still in trouble if you’re not well-seasoned playing against people out here.”

Both sides traded 3-pointers to start the second quarter, as Platt and Lauren Havlik connected for the Blazers and Layla Harjo answered for the Lions. But the bigger story for the Lions was turnovers, as LHS turned the ball over eight times in the second quarter.

It also didn’t help that DeWitt picked up her third foul with just over a minute left in the half.

Yet, LHS was still very much in the game as Gardner Edgerton held a slim 25-23 lead at halftime.

But the Blazers came alive in the third quarter, this time working it inside and attacking the glass, especially after free throws. Semon scored off a third chance opportunity after Gardner Edgerton missed four free throws in a row.

While chances like that stretched the lead to 31-23, LHS wasn’t done just yet. The Lions finally scored in the third quarter thanks to a pair of Ajekwu free throws, and a three from Harjo and a floater from senior guard Ella Stewart cut the lead to 31-30.

But Gardner Edgerton took a 39-33 lead at the end of the third quarter after Semon hit a transition layup and another 3-pointer. DeWitt also went down with an apparent knee injury for LHS.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Blazers looked to run away with it as LHS continued to sputter on offense. But once again LHS bounced back as a 3-pointer from Paiden Bell and a layup from Harjo cut the lead to 47-45.

Dickson was especially proud of how his team responded after DeWitt left the game.

“Sophie’s one of our leaders, she’s our best defensive player,” Dickson said. “Losing her, it took me a moment to try to regroup and I’m not sure I did a good job. But the kids did a really good job of just being ready to go.

Later, Marshall cut the lead to 52-50 with 43.9 seconds left with a layup off a steal. And after back-to-back jump balls called — as well as Kaylah Newman hitting a pair of free throws — the Blazers held on for the win.

Dickson said showing that kind of resilience in late-game situations is “what we hang our hat on.”

“And a couple of weeks ago, we wouldn’t have done that,” Dickson said. “If people want to count us out, that’s fine because we’re never going to count ourselves out.”

LHS will next play in a tournament hosted by Free State on Thursday, Jan. 30.

Lawrence High (50)

Ozi Ajekwu 5-9 4-10 14, Layla Harjo 4-10 2-2 12, Amaya Marshall 3-9 0-1 7, Ella Stewart 3-9 0-0 7, Paiden Bell 2-2 0-5 5, Serenity Keo 0-4 3-7 3, Hailey Ramirez 1-1 0-0 2, Sophie DeWitt 0-8 0-2 0. Totals 18-52 9-27 50.

Gardner Edgerton (54)

Sofia Semon 7-14 0-2 16, Kaylah Newman 2-9 7-10 12, Kaelin Platt 4-9 0-1 11, Mia Vallery 3-7 2-7 8, Sadie Watkins 1-3 2-8 4, Lauren Havlik 1-4 0-0 3, Abri Leiker 0-1 0-0 0, Trinity Taylor 0-0 0-2 0, Kiersten Markos 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 18-47 11-32 54

Lawrence High 14 9 10 17 — 50

Gardner Edgerton 14 11 14 15 — 54

3-point field goals: Lawrence High 5-18 (Harjo, Marshall, Stewart, Bell); Gardner Edgerton 7-19 (Platt, Semon, Newman, Havlik). Turnovers: Lawrence High 18, Gardner Edgerton 16.


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