FSHS girls close out competitive City Showdown with road win
photo by: Carter Gaskins
It took almost the entirety of Friday night’s City Showdown, but Free State High’s girls basketball team finally put rival Lawrence away late in a 55-46 victory at LHS.
The Lions, who trailed by four entering the fourth quarter, scrapped in the opening minutes of the period, much like they had all night, to make sure FSHS wouldn’t be able to cruise.
However, Robin Todd’s 3-pointer pushed the FSHS lead to 9 with a little more than three minutes to play. And when Shannon Clarke (16 points) turned a steal at the top of the key into a runway for a lay-in, LHS was down, 52-41, with 2:45 left.
“That kind of shows what kind of team we have,” FSHS coach Chris Linner said after his team improved to 5-11. “We’re experienced. We have seven seniors and they just battled every run (LHS) made and answered them with really big plays down the stretch. It was just an overall gutty performance.”
A defensive change for FSHS was also key to the win, as the visitors moved to a 3-2 zone to better close out on the Lions’ shooters in the fourth quarter.
“Lawrence lit it up for those first three quarters and really made us pay from the 3-point line,” Linner said.
Lawrence’s Lucy Hardy came through with a timely 3-pointer from the left corner with just over a minute left in the third quarter, helping the Lions (2-16) head to the fourth with a manageable 39-35 deficit.
Amaya Marshall delivered a much-needed 3-pointer for the trailing Lions off a steal, cutting Free State’s lead to 33-27 at the 5:57 mark. Next, Marshall found a driving lane to get to the hoop and finished inside to trim Free State’s advantage to 4. When Layla Harjo nailed a 3-pointer, LHS got within 2 points of the Firebirds, 34-32, shortly after falling behind by 10.
“I loved the effort,” Lions coach Jeff Dickson said. “I loved the togetherness and energy. We played as a family that loves and trusts each other.”
The Lions entered the second half trying to climb out of an 8-point deficit, but it grew to double digits for the first time when Clarke split three defenders on a fast break to score a layup just more than a minute into the third quarter.
An Evy Harrell steal and heady pass ahead that led Daeci Walker in for a layup in the final minute of the first half set up the Firebirds for a 31-23 lead at intermission.
A tie game halfway through the second quarter started to turn Free State’s way when Walker made back to back baskets. A Walker 3-pointer pushed it to 26-21 not long after she spun off contact and finished a tough layup inside.
Recently, FSHS had been without Walker, as she was unavailable due to concussion protocols. She led all scorers in the rivalry game with 18 points.
“She was great,” Linner said. “That was kind of unexpected to be honest (because of the time she had missed). She had timely 3’s and got us going when we were slow to start offensively.”
Following one flurry from Walker, a technical foul called on LHS led to two extra free throws for the Firebirds, who already were on their way to the charity stripe. The Firebirds went 3-for-4 during the stoppage to pad their lead further, up to eight points.
Although LHS ran into some trouble at times against Free State’s size and trapping in the backcourt, the Lions managed the challenge as best they could in the second quarter. LHS senior Jayden Wilson tied the game at 21 with a 3-pointer near the midway mark of the period.
The pressure defense FSHS first showed late in the first quarter breathed some life into the Firebirds, allowing them to close the period with a 13-10 lead, despite a difficult stretch for the visitors after the opening tip. FSHS stole the ball from LHS three times while using a press, setting up easy baskets late in the first. A Clarke layup off a Lions turnover gave FSHS its first lead of the game, 9-8.
Free State began the evening cold offensively, missing a number of good looks at the basket in the first quarter before Walker buried a left corner 3-pointer at the 4:30 mark to get the Firebirds on the board. Walker knocked down another 3 from deep a couple minutes later to trim Lawrence’s lead to 8-7.
LHS jumped out ahead, 5-0, on a 3-pointer by Hardy less than two minutes into the rivalry game.
The victory marked the end of the regular season for FSHS.
LHS, meanwhile, will face Shawnee Mission South on Tuesday and Blue Valley West on Wednesday.
Free State 55, Lawrence 46
Free State (55)
Evy Harrell 7, Shannon Clarke 16, Robin Todd 8, Daeci Walker 18, Thayu Kimori 2, Anna McIntire 4.
Jayden Wilson 5, Hailey Ramirez 5, Amaya Marshall 13, Destiny Savannah 3, Layla Harjo 5, Lucy Hardy 10, Serenity Keo 5.
FS 13 18 8 16 — 55
LHS 10 13 12 11 — 46
Three-point goals: FS 5 (Walker 3, Todd 2); LHS 7 (Marshall 2, Hardy 2, Wilson, Savannah, Harjo). Fouled out: LHS Keo.