Hoops Roundup: Free State boys take early lead in thumping of Gardner Edgerton

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Free State junior guard Devon Hamilton is jubilant after having a hot hand against Gardner-Edgerton on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

The Free State boys basketball team jumped out to a double-digit lead vs. Gardner Edgerton in Friday’s home opener, rolling past the Trailblazers 64-37 on Friday night.

Sophomore Zeek Brown led the Firebirds (4-1) with 11 points. Seniors Will Mlynek and Jailen Thompson each contributed 10 points. Junior Dash Johnson made an early impact, scoring a total of nine points in the first two quarters.

Free State coach Sherron Collins said the confident start made all the difference.

“We shot the ball as capable as we’ve been able to shoot it,” Collins said. “We just knew one game, it was going to happen. We’ve been waiting to open the game up and we did that tonight. Dash (Johnson) was big coming off the bench scoring big shots.”

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Free State senior Joshua Chen shoots the ball against Gardner-Edgerton on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

The Firebirds led the Trailblazers 13-6 by the end of the first quarter, riding high on two early 3s by Johnson. Gardner Edgerton’s offense took its time warming up, starting the first 3 minutes of the second quarter with a single basket.

Free State’s Mlynek maximized his output in the second quarter, entering double-digits (10) before the halftime buzzer. Johnson’s nine first-half points – three 3s – pushed the Firebirds toward a 31-17 lead heading into the locker room.

It took the Firebirds a moment to find their groove again in the second half, but six third-quarter points by Brown contributed to a 21-point lead over the Trailblazers at the end of the third quarter. Complicating things further for Gardner Edgerton were seniors Thompson and Dre Daniels, each chipping in a 3-pointer for Free State during the third quarter.

On a night when the Firebirds captured all the momentum in the second half, the Free State bench was animated as ever. Collins said he felt like that played a role in his team’s success.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Free State junior guard Devon Hamilton (11) high fives his teammate after hitting a three pointer against Gardner-Edgerton on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

“When we can, we’d love to play everybody,” Collins said. “That’s what I expressed to our seniors and our starting five – we did a great job of protecting home and getting a big enough lead in the game where everybody gets in and everybody shares the wealth.”

Brown continued building on the Free State lead in the fourth quarter, adding five more points to his final tally. Junior Devon Hamilton made a splash late for the Firebirds, scoring all eight of his points in the fourth quarter – including two 3s – to help stave off the Trailblazers at home.

Free State resumes action at Olathe North on Jan. 10.


The Lawrence High boys basketball team rallied from a double-digit hole in the third quarter to grab its first lead against Shawnee Mission Northwest, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Cougars from taking home a 79-65 win on Friday.

Lawrence junior Zaxton King drives the ball against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Junior Zaxton King led the Lions (5-1), scoring a game-high 33 points, including four 3s.. Senior Lance Bassett chipped in eight points, with seniors Jude Harris and Jaylon Case each adding five points to the final book.

LHS coach Mike Lewis knows there are lessons to be learned in the Sunflower League gauntlet.

“Our guys aren’t going to get too down or too low over a loss,” Lewis said. “We’re going to continue to bounce back and learn from it. January, itself, is a great month to learn and get better.”

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence coach Mike Lewis observes his team against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

The Lions were down early, trailing the Cougars by 12 when the first quarter wrapped. King scored 17 first-half points, aided by Bassett with six points in the second quarter to help cut LHS’ hole to 9 at the break.

Returning from halftime, the Lions captured its first lead of the game when King hit a three-pointer with 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Cougars finished the third quarter with 14 points, keeping first-half momentum for a 65-53 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Lewis said he was proud of the grit his group showed recovering from a troubling first-half start.

“We were on a mission to make some things change,” Lewis said. “But, (SM Northwest) was very timely with their offense and with their vibe. They were on a mission tonight to come beat the Lions. We faced a good team tonight and we lost. It’s going to happen.”

Entering the fourth quarter down 12, LHS couldn’t muster up enough offense to make a clean stab at its late deficit. King scored 11 fourth-quarter points for LHS, making two trips to the free-point stripe to trim down SM Northwest’s lead. Bassett also made two trips to the free-throw line, but the Lions couldn’t get the job done.

LHS hosts Olathe East on Jan. 10.

Lawrence senior Cole Watson looks to shoot the ball against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Lawrence High huddles together before the match up against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.


The Free State girls’ basketball team fell to Gardner Edgerton 63-19 Friday night at home. The Trailblazers mounted a 30-point lead by halftime and never looked back.

Senior Hayden Moore led the Lady Firebirds (0-4) with seven points. Freshman Addie Fulscher contributed four points. Junior Cydnee Price and sophomore Chloe Clossen each picked up 3-point baskets vs. the Trailblazers.

The Lady Firebirds resume action at Olathe North on Jan. 10.


The Lawrence High girls’ basketball team defeated Shawnee Mission Northwest, 66-41, on Friday night at home. The Lady Lions led the Cougars by as much as 27 in the second half and didn’t lift off the gas, opening the New Year with a second consecutive win.

Senior Serenity Keo led LHS (5-1) with a game-high 19 points. Three more Lady Lions – sophomore Brynnae Johnson (11), senior Amaya Marshall (10), and senior Daphne Bracker Sturm (10) – dipped into the double-digit scoring column.

LHS coach Jeff Dickson said the win shows just how quickly his group i’s piecing things together.

“A great team win versus the best-coached team in the state,” Dickson said of LHS’ performance. “Anytime you’re fortunate to slide by a (SM Northwest) team, you have really accomplished something special.”

The Lady Lions had plenty of success behind the arc, too. Keo, Marshall, senior Lucy Hardy and junior Destiny Savannah each contributed two or more 3s toward LHS’ fifth win of the season.

The Lady Lions host Olathe East on Jan. 10.


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