Darrow ready to lead LHS during senior season
Rachel Darrow is beginning her third season as a varsity basketball player at Lansing High, and she has her sights set on ending her senior season in perfect fashion.
"For me, it would be (to) win the state championship and for everyone to enjoy the season as a whole," Darrow said.
Darrow put in a lot of work during the summer to make her dream a reality. She practiced four times per week this summer and played in tournaments almost every weekend. Her summer team maintained a busy schedule, playing in tournaments in Lawrence, Kansas City, Mo., Wichita and St. Louis. In her spare time, she did extra conditioning work to improve her physical strength.
She said her greatest strength on the court is "my drive to the basket," so the left-handed guard worked on her ball-handling skills to become a better dribbler.
Darrow hopes all her offseason training will help Lansing have a breakthrough season.
"My junior year at the high school was my most successful thus far in my basketball career," she said of the Lions' 10-11 record last year.
The 10 victories were a major improvement for the Lions. They won just seven games the year before.
Darrow said team unity had been a problem early in her career, but that changed last year when Keith Andrews took over the team.
"When coach Andrews entered the program," Darrow said, "he stressed teamwork and unity, which help the team work together better."
Darrow said the addition of a new coach was only part of the reason for the Lions' improvement last year. She said the addition of new players helped too, because they brought new ideas and experiences to the team.
This season already has brought one new experience to the team: starting the season with high expectations.
For Darrow, it's a new experience for personal reasons.
"This season is different, in the sense that it could possibly be my last season playing basketball, and it is my last chance to achieve my goal," Darrow said. She said she wanted to make a higher percentage of her shots, make the All-Kaw Valley League team and help the Lions advance to the state tournament.
If that happens, she will have a better opportunity to achieve another personal goal: playing college basketball while pursuing a degree in sports medicine. Later she might pursue her doctoral degree in Physical Therapy.
"Right now," she said, "I am looking at the University of Saint Mary because they have a close-knit team where everyone seems to belong."
It's a similar setting to what she has grown accustomed to at Lansing.
Amanda Radovich got goosebumps when coach Keith Andrews made the announcement: Lansing would open its season at the Bonner Springs Tournament against Topeka Seaman. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at Bonner Springs High School.
The opponent will be the same Seaman team that ended Lansing's season last year, 56-43, in the substate playoffs. The same Seaman team that had a major size advantage. The same Seaman team that Lansing outplayed for three quarters, only to be doomed by a miserable second quarter.
"Last year was such a good game," Radovich recalled. "If it wasn't for that second quarter where we scored two points, we could have easily been in the substate championship."
Seaman outscored Lansing 15-2 in the decisive quarter when LHS went cold from the field and turned the ball over too much.
"If the second quarter had just been different," Radovich said, "it could have been a ball game."
Radovich led Lansing with 15 points in the contest and former senior Emily Goodlin chipped in 10 points. Rachel Darrow and Katie Nietzke added five apiece in the loss.
Radovich said she didn't anticipate the Lions having the same turnover problems from a year ago. She said the guard play of junior Riann Deere and Nietzke, a sophomore, had been steady so far during practice and she didn't see that changing.
"I think we're pretty strong with the guards and we're pretty strong in the post," she said. "I think we're pretty confident about what we can do."
Lansing's starting lineup is expected to include Deere, Radovich, Darrow and senior Nichole Twitchel. Junior Elizabeth Cristiano and sophomore Christine Cordes are the front-runners for the other starting spot at forward.
The girls' tournament field is stocked with talented programs. In addition to up-and-coming Lansing, two tough teams from Missouri - Savannah and Harrisonville - will compete. Seaman is receiving votes in the Kansas 5A poll, and Junction City is receiving votes in the 6A poll. Bonner Springs, Lawrence Free State and Atchison round out the squads.
A LHS victory today would pit it against the winner of Free State and Atchison at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Bonner Springs YMCA. The losers of both games will square off at 8:15 p.m. Friday at BSHS.