City Showdown: LHS boys, girls roll past Free State at home

Lawrence High senior Cole Watson celebrates with teammate Zaxton King during the game against Free State on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Lawrence High evaded a second-half comeback by Free State on Friday night, rolling away from the Firebirds 52-32 in the fourth quarter of the basketball City Showdown at LHS.

Junior Zaxton King led LHS (14-4) with 30 points on 7 of 13 shooting, including four 3s. Seniors Kenton Simmons and Lance Bassett each scored six points, with fellow seniors Jaylon Case and Will Leuschen chipping in four points each.

Lawrence High junior Zaxton King guards his opponent against Free State on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Free State seniors Dre Daniels and Jailen Thompson led the Firebirds (11-7) with nine points each, with fellow senior Tay Daniels scoring six points. Sophomore Zeek Brown contributed five more. Two 3s for Free State came by Brown and junior Dash Johnson.

LHS held the Firebirds to just 10 of 31 shooting.

“We just kept up the defense – that’s what kept us in it the whole way,” King said.

The Firebirds maintained a one-possession lead for most of a slow first quarter but coughed up five early turnovers and trailed LHS 5-4 heading into the second. Brown added his second 3 of the night for Free State early in the second, but LHS went on a 7-0 run shortly after to grab a five-point lead midway toward the break.

The Lions, after starting the game 2 of 8 from the field, ramped up their scoring late in the second quarter. King, entering double figures, handed LHS a 24-11 halftime lead when LHS senior Jude Harris set him up for a late 3 after forcing a turnover from Free State’s Dre Daniels.

“It’s a huge Jude play,” LHS coach Mike Lewis said. “We count on (Harris) for his speed and his defense and his energy. It was perfect timing for him to come out and get that five-second call which led to him also being a ball screener at the other end so (King) could get that 3 off.”

Free State picked up its pace after the break, keeping LHS quiet for most of the third and rallying back within six, trailing the Lions 30-24, entering the fourth. Dre Daniels and Thompson each added three or more points for the Firebirds during the third and limited LHS to just six third-quarter points between King and Leuschen.

Free State junior Dash Johnson shoots the ball against Lawrence High on Friday, February 17, 2023.

LHS opened the fourth with six fast points between King and Simmons, who took advantage of four turnovers on the way to a 15-point lead with 4:50 left. King added 15 points to his performance, leading LHS to victory with a late, one-handed dunk.

Free State coach Sherron Collins hopes this type of heated rivalry game will foster more initiative from his group before the postseason.

“We’re looking for them to lead and be more vocal and really anchor this thing,” Collins said. “I just think, in spurts, we lost it a little bit but they’re great leaders. I trust in my guys. We’ll forget about this one and we might just see these guys again at state.”

Free State coach Sherron Collins talks to his bench during the game against Lawrence High on Friday, February 17, 2023.

LHS travels to Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday; Free State welcomes Shawnee Mission Northwest.


Lawrence High (52): King 7-13, 12-14, 30, Simmons 3-5, 0-0, 6, Bassett 2-5, 2-2, 6, Case 2-3, 0-0, 4, Leuschen 1-4, 1-2, 4, Watson 1-1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 16-33, 15-20, 52.

Free State (32): D. Daniels 4-9, 1-1, 9, Thompson 3-7, 1-6, 9, T. Daniels 0-1, 6-8, 6, Brown 2-6, 0-0, 5, Johnson 1-3, 0-0, 3. Totals: 10-31, 10-15, 32.

3FGs: LHS 5-10 (King 4, Leuschen 1); Free State 2-12 (Brown 1, Johnson 1) TOs: LHS 9; Free State 15. Fouled out: LHS – none. Free State – Brown.

LHS girls roll Free State

The cross-town rivalry opened with the Lawrence High girls’ 52-10 victory over Free State.

Sophomore Brynnae Johnson led LHS (14-4) with 12 points, senior Daphne Bracker-Sturm added 11 points and senior Lucy Hardy chipped in seven points. On the Free State (0-19) end, senior Symira Spencer, sophomore Chloe Clossen and freshman Addie Fulscher contributed three points.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High senior Daphne Bracker-Sturm shoots the ball against Free State on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Free State held LHS to just 1 of 7 shooting with 6:10 left in the first quarter. The Lions, finding a rhythm later in the first, led the Firebirds 14-3 heading into the second. Fulscher grabbed the Firebirds’ first points with a three-pointer late in the first.

Six quick points by Johnson and Hardy kicked LHS into high gear early on in the second, as the Lions rolled to a 34-3 lead at halftime. Johnson and Bracker-Sturm each added at least six second-quarter points for LHS.

Spencer and Clossen landed three-point baskets early into the third quarter but still trailed LHS 48-9 heading into the fourth. 2s by LHS juniors Azura Clark and Miri Pickman helped the Lions seal things up for good in the fourth.

LHS travels to Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday; Free State hosts Shawnee Mission Northwest.

Free State sophomore Jordan Walker dribbles against Lawrence High on Friday, February 17, 2023.


Lawrence High (52): Johnson 5-12, 0-0, 12, Bracker-Sturm 5-10, 1-3, 11, L. Hardy 3-7, 1-1, 7, Marshall 2-10, 1-1, 5, Keo 1-4, 2-2, 5, Pickman 2-3, 1-1, 5, Clark 2-3, 0-0, 4, C. Hardy 1-3, 0-0, 3. Totals: 21-58, 6-8, 52.

Free State (10): Fulscher 1-3, 0-0, 3, Clossen 1-4, 0-0, 3, Spencer 1-4, 0-0, 3, Price 0-3, 1-2, 1. Totals: 3-18, 1-4, 10.

3FGs: LHS 4-25 (Johnson 2, Keo 1, C. Hardy 1); Free State 3-14 (Fulscher 1, Clossen 1, Spencer 1) TOs: LHS 9; Free State 23. Fouled out: none.

Free State sophomore Zeek Brown dribbles against Lawrence High on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Free State students are jubilant against Lawrence High on Friday, February 17, 2023.


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