Lansing boys struggle in return to court
Lansing High boys' basketball coach Don Allen is certain of one thing following his squad's fourth loss in six games: the Lions' attitude in practice must improve.
LHS (2-4 overall, 1-2 Kaw Valley League) was throttled at Piper, 59-45, on Friday, and Allen pointed directly to the Lions' lack of focus in practice as the primary cause of their inability to shoot or pass effectively against the Pirates (6-1, 3-0).
The Lions made just 34 percent of their field goal attempts (15-for-44), sank just two of 13 three-point tries and struggled to find open teammates in position to score. Leading scorers Jeff Slater and David Kern also sat most of the half with foul trouble. With those two on the bench, the Lions dug themselves a 14-point halftime deficit that they never were able to fully recover from. Sure, Chris Wagner scored 17 points and Slater added 16, but most of that came late in the game - each player had just two points in the first half.
"Quite a bit of it is lack of playing," said Allen, whose team played its first game in almost a month, "but Piper hadn't had a game since we have either, so obviously their defensive effort had most to do with it. I think we played the first half about how we practiced over Christmas break. Lackadaisical, lack of effort and without a purpose.
"I was extremely disappointed with our Christmas break practices, and we had that conversation during break. You hope they get the message before it comes to this."
Allen said he warned the Lions if they didn't polish up their attitude quickly they could be in for some trouble. The Pirates, the fourth-ranked team in Class 4A, were happy to lash the Lions with all the mayhem they could muster. Piper scored from inside, outside, from the free-throw line and off the fast break.
The part that hurt the most was that Lansing still could have won the game. The Lions trimmed an 18-point deficit to just six in the third quarter and had plenty of opportunities to take over the game.
"We just knew we had to come out and play (in the second half) or we would've gotten run out of the gym," Wagner said. "It was mostly for pride, but then we came back and should've happened.
"If the first half wasn't so sloppy : that really killed us."
Allen praised reserves Ryan Robbins and Jeff Jackson for giving the Lions a boost in the second half but said the squad as a whole needed to improve.
"I thought we came out in the second half real well," Allen said. "You can't spot somebody 15 points, especially as good as Piper is, and hope to come out on top too many times. I was pleased with the effort second half. I thought we came out and tried to fight to get back into the basketball game."
The Lions will try to get back on track at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they play host to Bonner Springs (1-5, 1-1) at Lansing Intermediate School.