Wristen: Now is the time for Lions to shine
In the last week, the Lansing High boys and girls basketball teams both played their best games of the year.
For the boys, it was Tuesday afternoon's 64-58 loss to heavily favored Atchison in the first round of the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament. For the girls, the monumental victory came Friday night in a 63-41 drubbing of Bonner Springs.
Now, the Lions must decide where to go from here. Will they build on those solid efforts and use it as a step in the right direction? Or will they be satisfied and let a mid-season game be the highlight of their season?
Yes, both Lansing basketball teams are at a midseason crossroads. There's a fork in the road. It's time to choose the right path.
My impression Tuesday afternoon was that the Lansing boys know exactly where they want to go, and they now know how to get there. They figured out that all-out defensive intensity and a commitment to a team-oriented, disciplined offense would allow them to be successful - even against an athletically superior Atchison club.
"This game should make a statement for us, because this team beat Topeka Seaman, who buried us by about 30 last year and went to the state tournament," senior Cody Mohan said. "It should be a statement for us that we can compete and believe in each other the whole game while running our offense and keeping our composure."
Senior Jeff Slater predicted the Lions would win nine of their next 10 games. Then Mohan upped the ante to 10 out of 10. That's feasible if they stick together.
While the boys know why they elevated their game Tuesday and seem to understand how to replicate that effort, the Lansing girls aren't quite so sure about themselves.
Their dominating effort against a good group of Bravettes showed just how special the Lions can be when they're all on the same page, when they're playing within the offense and hustling on defense. Their Monday meltdown against the Silver Lake Eagles raised questions about whether the Lions can maintain their focus game after game.
"We've got to dig down inside and find whatever we found against Bonner," senior Rachel Darrow said after the 52-34 loss to Silver Lake.
Here's why Lansing pummeled Bonner: misdirected anger. The Lions weren't really mad at the Bravettes. They were ticked off at themselves for losing two buzzer-beater games to the Bravettes last year. They harnessed that anger and turned it into 32 minutes of dazzling basketball Friday night.
Now they need to harness the anger from Monday's loss and let it serve as motivation for every game the rest of the season. If they do that, they will get back on track quickly and be tough to beat.