Free State will be tough challenge for Lansing girls
When the Lansing High girls basketball team opens its season at 3 p.m. today at the Bonner Springs Metro Prep Tipoff Classic, it will face a familiar opponent in Lawrence Free State.
LHS opened the 2004 season against Free State in the same tournament. The Lions lost that game, 61-37, in their first game ever under coach Keith Andrews, but the game was the starting point for the rise of both schools' programs. Free State won 23 games the past two seasons and Lansing won 25.
The difference today is that Free State's top guns from those seasons are back. Meanwhile, Lansing graduated the core of its offense. In some ways the Lions are back to square one, and just like two years ago Andrews said today's meeting will be a learning experience.
"It will be a measuring stick," said Andrews, who is 25-18 in two years at LHS. "When we played them before we were in awe obviously with some of the freshmen playing them, and then it was my first game coaching with them and nobody really knew what to expect.
"This year we know what to expect. They're going to have some good players, and I think we'll be a little more calm and ready to go. There'll be some jitters for the first game, but it'll also be a measuring stick of how far we've come."
Three Lansing players - juniors Katie Nietzke, Amanda Darrow and Morgan Chiles - played the first game of their prep careers against Free State two years ago. Darrow said playing a quality opponent helped them then, and she said playing the No. 4-ranked team in Class 6A will help them now.
"I think it's good that we start out with harder teams because it makes us better for our league games," she said.
Free State (1-0) is led by 5-foot-7 senior guard Lauren Kimball (11 points per game) and 6-foot sophomore forward Taylor Manning (13 p.p.g.), the daughter of former University of Kansas All-American Danny Manning.