Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2004

Lansing girls prepared for Free State challenge

Lions hope to capitalize on young Firebirds

December 9, 2004

Lansing High girls' basketball coach Keith Andrews received a good scare last week when he saw on Metro Sports that Lawrence Free State had shellacked Topeka Washburn Rural, 74-36, last week.

"I thought 'Oh my God,'" Andrews said, "because Washburn Rural is ranked No. 2 (in Class 6A)."

Fortunately for Andrews, the score was a misprint. Free State actually lost, 74-36, in its season-opener. The Firebirds will be Lansing's opponent when the Lions open their season at 3 p.m. today at Bonner Springs High School in the Bonner Springs Tournament.

Andrews said he took a little comfort in knowing his squad's first foe hadn't actually waxed one of the state's top teams, but was quick to point out the loss didn't mean the Lions would take Free State lightly.

"I don't know if that (loss) is going to help us," he said, "but that's better than beating the No. 2 team in 6A. They're a young team also, and they want to be up-tempo, so it should be an entertaining game to watch."

The Lions (0-0) know little about Free State (0-1), other than that they played the Firebirds' junior varsity squad last year in the Tonganoxie Tournament and won easily. Free State graduated most of its starters from last season, however, so some of the faces from that JV squad could be familiar today.

Free State's primary threat, senior forward Jamie Stanclift, was an All-Sunflower League selection and averaged 13 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year. Junior guard Tricia Dunham is the Firebirds' top outside threat. Sophomore guard Lauren Kimball also could be tough to handle, although Andrews said he thought his players were up to the task.

"They're shaky handling the ball, so we're going to press them and make them run and see if they can handle it and see what happens," he said. "Hopefully it'll be a good game and we'll come away with a win."

Free State is young and doesn't have much depth, which is a major contrast to Lansing. The Lions will be much more unpredictable because they boast five seniors who will see plenty of action but also have numerous underclassmen who are ready to contribute.

Instead of going five- or six-deep, Andrews said he wouldn't be surprised to use every player on the roster. He said that may be necessary because his squad's conditioning really hasn't been tested.

"We've got to get a game to see faster-paced action," he said. "We've scrimmaged a boys' group, but game speed is totally different than any kind of scrimmage you have in practice, and they need that. We may need all 13 or 14 on Thursday to get past the stamina part of things."

Senior Monique Richardson said a game is exactly what the Lions need for another reason - they're just ready to get the season started.

"The love of the game gets you all hyped up to play," she said. "It'll be a totally different situation and a different pace (from practice), and by the end of the weekend we'll be tired, but we'll give 110 percent, and it should be good."

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