Strong finish in fourth quarter leads to 41-36 win for LHS girls basketball
photo by: Carter Gaskins
A young Lawrence High girls basketball team made enough plays down the stretch to secure a 41-36 win over Shawnee Mission North Wednesday night at LHS. The win snapped a four-game skid for Lawrence.
Nearly everybody contributed to a strong finish by the Lions, who normally haven’t found much success in such situations over the last two seasons. After entering the final period tied at 29-29, LHS took control in the fourth quarter to ultimately improve to 2-6 on the year.
“Every kid there at the end made a play that we needed to have made in order to win the game,” LHS head coach Jeff Dickson said. “Earlier in the season we weren’t doing that and definitely not last year with those particular kids. It was super gratifying to see them step up in a tough game.”
“It would have been easy to not rise to the moment,” Dickson added. “I felt like they rose to the moment.”
But what made the victory even more impressive was that it came just five days after Lawrence’s 37-35 loss to Mill Valley in a game that Dickson felt like the team let slip away. Instead of sulking, the Lions responded with their best practices over the next few days in preparation for this game.
“During practice, we were going pretty hard,” sophomore Serenity Keo said. “We all want to win. We want to be on the same page and going hard.”
“We wanted to win, that’s pretty much it,” Keo added.
Keo played a big part in the Lions’ latest victory. She scored a team-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting. A majority of Keo’s scoring production came because she attacked the Shawnee Mission North (0-4) zone defense off the dribble.
Two of those hard drives came within the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Keo broke a 29-29 tie with a baseline drive at the 6:42 mark, giving the Lions a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Moments later she attacked the rim from the right wing to net another layup.
“She’s got no fear,” Dickson said. “She’s one of the toughest kids I have ever been around. She never quits. She was like that last year. She’s all heart, all guts and all toughness.”
A perfect example of Keo’s fearlessness occurred with the game on the line. Clinging to a 37-34 lead, Keo stepped in the lane to draw a charge against Shawnee Mission North junior Summer Wieneke.
Keo, who had been called for multiple blocking fouls already on the night, was awarded the charge with 15.5 seconds left in the game.
“She’s either going to get the bucket or I get the foul or charge. I had to be there,” said Keo, who had her left knee wrapped up after the game as a symbol for what she put at stake in crunch time. “It was cool. It was exciting.”
Still, nearly everybody who stepped on the floor in the fourth quarter made a big play for the Lions when they needed it the most.
Sophomore Amaya Marshall, who finished with 13 points to join Keo in double figures, connected on two big free throw attempts with 3.7 seconds remaining. She also drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in the third period when LHS was struggling to find much on offense.
Leading 39-36 on the final possession, LHS sophomore Hailey Ramirez stole the ensuing inbound pass attempt from Shawnee Mission North. Sophomore Lucy Hardy provided strong play on the defensive end, as Lawrence forced six turnovers in the fourth quarter alone while employing its full-court pressure defense.
Junior Layla Harjo came through with a clutch rebound with 37.5 seconds left after senior Jayden Wilson missed her second attempt from the charity stripe. Harjo and freshman Azura Clark each knocked down a free throw in the final quarter.
“I feel like we took a step and grew up a little bit,” Dickson said. “They came together and pulled together. They got stops when they needed to get stops. With that to build on, I think the sky’s the limit. That’s what we are shooting for.”
The Lions were in front for most of the night after Ramirez knocked down a triple on the opening possessions via an assist by Harjo. Ramirez finished with 9 points on the night after drilling a pair of 3-pointers for LHS.
Yet it was the strong performance in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the deal for the Lions.
“It felt pretty good,” Keo said of the win. “Throughout all the mistakes we made, we just had to keep our heads up and keep going even though we are young. We just focused on winning.”
Lawrence will travel to Blue Valley West on Monday. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
SM North (36)
Summer Wieneke 1-11 4-4 6, Kiara Williams 5-14 3-4 Baylee Doolin 1-5 0-0 3, Anna Harrison 1-4 1-3 3, Jessica Brown 0-3 1-2 1, Anna Baker 1-1 0-0 2, Olga Mojica 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 11-40 FG 9-13 FT 36 points.
Hailey Ramirez 3-9 1-3 9, Amaya Marshall 4-15 34 13, Layla Harjo 0-5 1-2 1, Serenity Keo 7-13 3-4 17, Azura Clark 0-3 1-2 1, Lucy Hardy 0-2 0-0 0, Morgann Haaga 0-2 0-0 0, Jayden Wilson 0-1 0-3 0. Totals: 14-50 FG 9-18 FT 41 points.
SM North 7 12 10 7 — 36
Lawrence 11 11 7 12 — 41
3-point goals: SMN 5-18 (Williams 4, Doolin); LHS 4-22 (Ramirez 2, Marshall 2). Turnovers: SMN 16; LHS 11. Fouled out: Harrison, SMN.