Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2006

Second-half surge propels Lions past Pirates

Cold shooting costs LHS boys in loss to Piper

January 7, 2006

When the Lansing High girls went into halftime Friday night trailing Piper by two points, it was hard to figure out exactly what was going wrong for LHS.

After all, the Lions had made 50 percent of their shots during the first 16 minutes, and they'd turned the ball over just five times. But something just wasn't right.

"The first half we were kind of slow," senior Rachel Darrow said. "I don't think we had the enthusiasm that we should have had. We just weren't as pumped as we should have been. We came out in the second half a little more enthused and it paid off."

Boy did it ever.

Lansing erupted on an 11-0 run to start the second half and never looked back as it rolled to a 66-50 victory at Johnsmeyer Gymnasium.

LHS (4-3 overall, 3-1 Kaw Valley League) was knocking down open shots throughout the first half, but the problem was it was allowing Piper to have too many second-chance opportunities and open looks. The Pirates took advantage of every opportunity and twice built six-point leads as Michelle Selbe scored at will inside and Allison Brown and Allie Nichols knocked down open jumpers. In fact, they led 30-24 with 2:40 left in the second quarter before the Lions started creeping closer.

Piper held a 32-30 lead at halftime, but Lansing knew what it needed to fix.

"We just decided there wasn't enough energy, so we tried to pick each other up," senior Nichole Twitchel said.

There still was one more thing to fix. LHS coach Keith Andrews issued a challenge to senior forward Amanda Radovich. The team's leading scorer at almost 19 points per game, Radovich wasn't asserting herself inside or holding her ground during the first half.

"I told Raddy at halftime, 'She (Selbe) is at least even with you if not outplaying you,'" Andrews said. "I said, 'You need to go in there and take over.' And she said, 'Yeah, I know.'"

Message received. The Lions played with furious intensity on defense in the second half and delivered an 11-0 run in the first 4:08 of the third quarter to blow the game wide open. The closest the Pirates ever got the rest of the way was six points.

The Lions forced 12 turnovers in the second half and turned those into 14 points. They also cleaned up from close range. Darrow hit three of five second-half shots from within four feet of the goal. Radovich made seven of nine shots in the second half, and all were within four feet of the goal.

"I think that was the best stretch of team basketball," Darrow said of the Lions' second-half effort. "We played well as a team. We hit the open players and played inside out."

Radovich led Lansing with a game-high 23 points and Darrow added 13. Twitchel scored nine points, Katie Nietzke had eight, Christine Cordes added six, Morgan Chiles scored three and Amanda Darrow and Brittney Lang chipped in two apiece. Selbe led Piper with 13 points, Nichols had 12, Andrea Sutter added 11 and Brown chipped in 10.

Lansing next plays at 6 p.m. Friday at Bonner Springs in a game that will have a major impact on the league standings. Bonner won both meetings last year.

PIPER 49, LANSING BOYS 38

Open shots were Lansing High's greatest enemy Friday night as the boys basketball team dropped a 49-38 decision to Piper at Johnsmeyer Gymnasium.

The Lions (3-4 overall, 2-2 Kaw Valley League) missed numerous wide-open shots throughout the game. They tossed up a half-dozen airballs and had another half-dozen shots blocked. It was the combination of those offensive woes that led to their demise.

"We've got to keep shooting, knock down a few and get some confidence," LHS coach Don Allen said. "We've got to keep working on it. You've got to keep thinking that the shots are going to fall eventually."

The shots didn't drop against Piper, though. That was for sure.

Lansing was fairly sharp for most of the first quarter. Jeff Slater scored on a put-back, David Kern sank a free throw, Matt Warner had a put-back and Cody Mohan sank a three-pointer to give LHS an 8-3 lead after four minutes. That's when the Lions went cold. They trailed 12-10 after the first quarter, but that was just the beginning of the cold shooting.

Piper pushed its lead to 20-10 in the second quarter and held Lansing scoreless for seven minutes. Two baskets by junior Jeff Jackson in the final minute prevented them from being shut out in the quarter.

The Lions made just six of 23 shots (26.1 percent) in the first half, but their saving grace was their defense. They were so effective with their full-court trap and they were aggressive enough defensively that they held the Pirates to 37.5 percent shooting and kept the game close.

"I think our press really helped us out tonight," Kern said. "It picked up the pace a little bit and made them take some bad shots. We were running it hard. They broke it a couple times, but for the most part it seemed like it worked pretty well."

The defense - and the press especially - gave the Lions plenty of opportunities to close the gap and possibly win the game, but offensive inefficiency remained a problem in the second half. Mohan and Chris Wagner were cold from the perimeter and Slater struggled to finish from close range in the third quarter. All the while, the defense kept it interesting.

"I was real happy with our defensive effort," Allen said.

In the fourth quarter the offense finally came around, but it was a bit too late. Slater and Kern heated up inside. A jump shot by Wagner pulled LHS within 40-33 with 4:12 left, but that was as close as it got.

Lansing hit just 32 percent of its shots (16-for-50). It was nine-for-38 (23.7 percent) in the first three quarters.

The Lions next play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Bonner Springs Braves at the Bonner Springs YMCA.

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