Firebirds downed by Mill Valley to close regular season
The Free State boys basketball team closed out its regular season with a 67-48 loss to Mill Valley on Friday night in a game that the visitors led from the second quarter on.
On Free State’s senior night, the Firebirds (11-9) were led by senior Jailen Thompson’s 20 points.
“We expect that from (Jailen) every game,” FSHS coach Sherron Collins said. “He’s been probably one of our most consistent players. That’s how you’re supposed to go out.”
Junior Wesley Edison added six points for the Firebirds, but the Jaguars (15-5) made nine 3-pointers to pull away from FSHS midway through the contest. Free State made just two 3s in the game, both from Dash Johnson off the bench.
Mill Valley was led by Carter Kaifes’s 25 points. Mason Kemp chipped in 10 for the Jaguars. Tay Daniels and Will Mlynek each scored four points for the Firebirds.
Thompson started the game off strong for the Firebirds, recording five first-quarter points and leading the FSHS offense in the opening eight minutes.
Mill Valley took a late lead after a 3-pointer by Reece Riedel put the Jaguars up 9-7 going into the second quarter.
The Firebirds fought back, knotting the game at 14 apiece early in the second quarter, but a 12-2 run from Mill Valley over the next four minutes gave the Jaguars a 26-16 lead late in the first half and forced a Free State timeout.
“I feel like when they went on a run, we gave up and that’s something we’ve got to stop doing,” Collins said.
Following the brief timeout by Collins, Mill Valley extended its lead and closed out the first half, on a buzzer beater by Brooks Jahnke, which gave the visitors a commanding 31-16 lead heading into the halftime locker room.
Free State’s Thompson finished the half with nine points, the most of all Firebirds. Riedel led the Jaguars with 11 points off the bench.
To start out the third quarter, Thompson knocked down two free throws and cut the Jaguars lead to 13, but the Jaguars responded once more, increasing their lead to as much as 20 midway through the third quarter.
Despite Thompson’s seven third quarter points, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kael Drummond gave Mill Valley a 53-34 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Firebirds kept fighting in the fourth and made several attempts to cut the lead late, but Mill Valley used its size to seal the deal for the visitors, giving the Jaguars their 15th win of the season heading into the playoffs next week.
After each team traded baskets in the final minutes, Mill Valley eventually took down Free State 67-48. The Firebirds will prepare for postseason play with an 11-9 record.
The 6A substate playoff bracket is expected to be released by 10 a.m. Saturday.
“I just told them to stay together,” Collins said. “We’ll build their confidence here over the next couple of days. We got to stay together and keep fighting.”
Mill Valley (67)
Brooks Jahnke 2-3 0-0 5, Reece Riedel 4-5 0-0 11, Nen Matlock 2-6 1-4 5, Bryant Wiltse 1-3 0-0 3, Carter Kaifes 8-12 0-0 19, Mason Kemp 4-6 2-3 10, Jake Fischer 0-0 2-2 2, Thatcher Ivey 0-0 1-1 1, Kael Drummond 2-3 0-0 5, Aaron Gallimore 1-1 0-0 2, Gus Hawkins 2-3 0-0 4, Totals 26-42 FG, 6-10 FT, 67.
Free State (48)
Jailen Thompson 8-16 4-6 20, Dre Daniels 1-6 0-0 2, Tay Daniels 2-5 0-0 4, Wesley Edison 2-3 2-3 6, Dash Johnson 2-8 0-0 6, Will Mlynek 2-5 0-0 4, Korbin Dowdell 0-1 2-2 2, Joshua Chen 1-2 0-0 2, Devon Hamilton 1-1 0-0 2, Totals: 19-47 FG, 8-11 FT, 48.
Score by quarters
Mill Valley 9 22 22 14 — 67
Free State 7 9 18 14 — 48
3-point goals: MV 9-17 Reece Riedel (3), Carter Kaifes (3) Brooks Jahnke (1) Bryant Wiltse (1) Kael Drummond (1); FS 2-16 Dash Johnson (2). Turnovers: MV 7; FSHS 4. Fouled out: None.