Preps Notebook: Free State girls show newfound depth in season-opening loss

Free State freshman Addie Fulscher drives the ball against Wichita Northwest on Friday, January 27, 2023.

Free State head girls basketball coach Summer Frantz had plenty of positive takeaways from a 53-30 loss to Blue Valley West in Thursday night’s season opener on the road.

Her group fought well into the second half, but endurance waned for the Firebirds, as Frantz’ young squad fell to 0-1 to begin the year. A 10-point performance by freshman Anniston Clark, who stepped into the starting five in senior Cydnee Price’s absence, headlined the night for FSHS.

Nine more points came from sophomore point guard Addie Fulscher, and another six points came by way of freshman Peyton Moore off the bench. Frantz, scribbling down as many notes as she could in Game 1, said her team’s resilience stood out.

“Last year, we wouldn’t necessarily respond to their runs,” Frantz said. “We were able to respond to each one of (BV West’s) runs in this game and I was very proud of that and how we maintained our composure.”

And the Firebirds did respond quite often.

Winning the tipoff, FSHS jumped to a 4-2 lead on a pair of 2s by sophomore Libby Easter and freshman Anniston Clark. Freshman Peyton Moore came off the bench in a big way for the Firebirds early, knocking down the night’s first 3-point basket to keep the Jaguars within reach, 13-7, heading into the second quarter.

BV West, jumping ahead to a 10-point lead behind senior post Makenzie Galliart (nine first-half points), couldn’t silence FSHS that easily before the break. A 6-0 run led by sophomore Addie Fulscher, and another 3 by Moore, pulled the Firebirds back within a possession, at 17-14, of the Jaguars with three minutes before the break.

Two turnovers and a few points off BV West’s bench hurt FSHS late in the second quarter, however, allowing BV West to pad their lead to 23-16 heading into the locker room. Frantz rotated the same seven girls throughout the night, which may have contributed to some of her team’s disjointedness.

“We had to plug in and adjust on the fly,” Frantz said. “I was proud of how we battled when we were tired.”

FSHS carried over its turnover woes into the third quarter, scrapping for just four points – 2s by Fulscher and Clark – off three BV West turnovers. Meanwhile, Jaguars senior Marisa Tomlen was heating up behind the arc and helped earn a 33-18 lead on the Firebirds entering the fourth quarter.

By the end of the night, FSHS had racked up 16 total turnovers.

“We got sped up and there was definitely some nerves,” Frantz said. “We want to get out and go on people a little bit, but we need to slow down. We’ll catch some of that on film, for sure.”

While FSHS never quite matched the Jaguars’ pace the rest of the way, Clark flashed her scoring ability late in the paint. The freshman post ripped off six unanswered points in the final minutes on top of two more 3s between Fulscher and junior Chloe Clossen.

Next up, FSHS hosts Shawnee Mission West on Dec. 13. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.


Lawrence-Free State 7 7 4 12 – 30

Blue Valley West 13 10 10 13 – 53

Free State (30) Addie Fulscher 4-8 0-0 9; Libby Easter 1-1 0-0 2; Anniston Clark 5-7 0-1 10; Chloe Clossen 1-3 0-0 3; Aly Richardson 0-1 0-0 -. Totals: 13-24 0-1 30.

BV West (53) Kendal Ford 4-6 0-0 8; Millie Reitz 1-5 0-0 3; Liv Gutierrez 3-10 0-0 7; Marisa Tomlen 4-11 0-0 11; Makenzie Galliart 6-12 3-5 15. Totals: 22-53 4-10 53.

Free State boys swimming opens season hot at Lawrence Invite

Hitting the water hot, the Free State boys swim and dive team rolled to a first-place team finish at the Lawrence Invitational on Wednesday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center. At home to begin the season, the Firebirds (474) edged out city rivals Lawrence High (second, 303), Shawnee Mission South (third, 246) and Leavenworth High (fourth, 143).

The day began with FSHS senior Isaiah Wilkins (216.85) besting freshman teammate Constantine Shipley (163.65) and two Shawnee Mission South divers for a first-place individual finish.

photo by: Conner Becker/Journal-World

Swimmers from Lawrence High, Leavenworth High and Free State High line up for the first race at the Lawrence Invitational on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center at Free State High School.

In the 200-yard medley relay, Free State’s A team – junior Sina Khosh, junior Ari Mattes, senior Dawson Bonnell and senior Jake King – finished first (1:46.61) overall, followed by the Firebirds’ B team – senior Levi Bates, junior Asher Zelvy, senior Jackson Rea and junior Jack Kempf – in second place (1:54.36).

On the LHS side, the Lions’ A team – junior Ike Adams, Jack Tell, sophomore Alex Oral and senior Luke Velte – finished third overall in the 200-yard medley relay, earning the first medal(s) of the afternoon for the Chesty Lions.

photo by: Conner Becker/Journal-World

A Lawrence High swimmer warms up before a race at the Lawrence Invitational on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center at Free State High School.

LHS junior Ryan Lane (23.79) and Velte (23.82) finished second and third, respectively, in the 50-yard freestyle race. Velte won the boys’ 100-yard freestyle (54.57), beating out the Firebirds’ Anderson (54.41) for the gold.

In the 200-yard individual medley, Bonnell took first (2:11.03) behind three of his teammates – Mattes (2:16.37), freshman Anderson Bateman (2:22.51) and Zelvy (2:24.95). In the 200-yard freestyle, FSHS sophomore Owen Carnagey (2:02.28) and Jackson (2:09.95) finished second and fourth, respectively.

In the 500-yard freestyle, FSHS kept things rolling by sweeping the top three individual spots, with Khosh (5:32.07), sophomore Joseph Flachsbarth (5:47.90) and Carnagey (5:59.07). Later in the 100-yard backstroke, Khosh (1:00.04) and sophomore Ewan Campbell (1:03.73) took first and second, respectively; LHS’ Adams finished third (1:07.82).

Mattes capped the big day with a first-place individual finish (1:09.17) in the 100-yard breaststroke, less than a second behind teammate Zelvy (1:10.00) and four seconds ahead of Tell (1:13.49).

FSHS and LHS return to action at the Lions Invite on Dec. 13 at LHS.

FSHS, LHS girls drop wrestling opener at Gardner Edgerton

The Free State and Lawrence High girls wrestling teams were in action for their first meet of the season at Gardner Edgerton on Wednesday.

Despite evident growing pains, FSHS and LHS chalked up six big victories between Firebirds junior, and returning state qualifier, Daijah Preston (three pins) and Chesty Lions sophomore Goldy Stephens (three pins).

FSHS and LHS return to the mat Saturday at Leavenworth High.


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