Archive for Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wagner catches fire as Lions smoke Bobcats

LHS girls rally for third straight win

January 28, 2006, 12:30 a.m.

Updated: January 30, 2006, 1:15 p.m.

— This one deserves an asterisk.

That's the only way to give justice to Chris Wagner after the breathtaking performance he delivered Friday night at Basehor-Linwood. The official score book will tell you that Wagner, a Lansing High senior shooting guard, scored a game-high 28 points in Lansing's 63-48 victory.

That's all wrong.

The true final score was 65-48. In reality, Wagner scored a career-high 30 points. That's the truth. Period.

The official scorekeeper simply forgot to record one of Wagner's first-half baskets. The scoreboard operator had it right, as did the team managers and videographer. It was an honest mistake, but two points eventually were taken off the board.

Regardless, the glitch couldn't ruin Wagner's night. His team hit 60 percent of its shots, held Basehor to 36 percent from the field and led from start to finish in a dominating all-around performance. LHS now is 5-7 overall (3-3 Kaw Valley League) and has won two games in a row.

"We're definitely turning it around," Wagner said. "We needed one that wasn't close. I think that really helped. The Tongie game we won by double-digits I think, and stringing two together is good."

The outcome of the game wasn't in doubt after the first 6 minutes, 24 seconds. That's how long it took for the Lions to streak to a 20-2 lead. David Kern had nine points during that stretch and Wagner had five, but the real difference was that the Lions hit nine of their first 11 shots while the Bobcats' only two points during that stretch came at the free throw line.

"I thought we played fantastic," LHS coach Don Allen said. "We came out with a lot of intensity and a lot of focus. We came out and really played well and got off to a good start, and we needed to do that."

By the time Basehor started warming up, it already was too late. Lansing had done too much damage and had too much momentum in its favor. Even the scorekeeper's error that wiped two of Wagner's eight second-quarter points off the board couldn't slow LHS down.

Lansing's 35-25 halftime lead was changed to 33-25, but it didn't matter. The Lions quickly pushed the lead back to double-digits and never let the Bobcats climb back into it. In fact, the Lions were so comfortable with their lead that they even found time to laugh off a bricked dunk attempt by Jeff Slater early in the fourth quarter.

"Jeffrey and I've got a running bet," Allen said with a laugh. "No. 1, I say he can't dunk. I'd still say he hasn't proven me wrong."

Lansing's keys to success Friday night were threefold. First, there was the Wagner factor. He hit nine of 15 shots and went 12-for-14 at the free throw line in compiling 30 points. The fireworks display broke Wagner out of a six-game shooting funk.

"After he hit a couple, you could kind of feel that he was getting into his groove with those pull-ups," Allen said. "It has been gone from our offense for a few games, so it was nice to see it. We're not asking for 30 out of him every night, but it'd be nice to get back to some consistent numbers there. He caught fire and kind of got unconscious there for a stretch, and all of those are good shots for him."

The second factor was the defense, which was highlighted by two blocked shots by Jeff Jackson and the pesky perimeter defense of Cody Mohan.

"Cody's just been locking up on people," Allen said. "He has been real strong and steady for us on defense. He's been doing a fantastic job of really pressuring the ball. People that he's guarding, they very rarely have a big night."

Third was the fact that the Lions used the fast break to their advantage every time the opportunity arose.

"We just ran on them," Wagner said. "That was our plan, to just get out and go. That's what we need to do the second half of the season."

In addition to Wagner's 30, Slater scored in double-figures with 14 and Kern added 11 on five-for-five shooting. Matt Warner added six, and Mohan and Jackson had two apiece. Tanner Swafford led Basehor with 18 points.

Lansing will try to run its winning streak to three when it plays host to Perry-Lecompton at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Editor's note: Since this story was published, Basehor-Linwood High School officials have disputed the controversy as detailed in this story. Basehor officials said their book shows Wagner scoring 30 points, but has Warner with four points instead of six. The Current did not receive statistics from Basehor-Linwood High School. The stats listed by The Current are in agreement with those released by Lansing High School. Upon further review with LHS coach Don Allen on Monday night, it again was confirmed that it was specifically Wagner's points that had been taken away during the conference at the scorer's table, leaving Wagner with 11 in the first half to go with 17 in the second half.

LANSING GIRLS 63, BASEHOR 60

Just like the first time the Lansing High and Basehor-Linwood girls met on the basketball court, Lansing walked away with a three-point victory Friday night.

The difference this time around was that the Lions never had a cozy lead. They never had the chance to let a large advantage be whittled away. Nope, this time they had to scrap and claw for every last point. A clutch three-pointer by Katie Nietzke - something that's becoming an everyday occurrence - and another 20-plus-point performance from Amanda Radovich didn't hurt either.

In the end, the 63-60 final score in favor of Lansing was all that mattered.

"One-and-oh tonight is the goal," LHS coach Keith Andrews said.

The Lions (8-4 overall, 5-1 Kaw Valley League) got the win, but it certainly didn't come easy. The Bobcats surged to an early 5-0 lead on a three-pointer from Michelle Chrisman and a bucket from Cassie Lombardino. The Lions stormed back on a layup from Rachel Darrow and a put-back by Nichole Twitchel. Finally, Nietzke banked in a three-pointer from the top of the key that tied the game at 7-7. After another tie at 11-11, the Lions pushed their lead to 16-11 on a layup by Amanda Darrow and a three-ponter from Rachel Darrow.

Lansing eventually extended its lead to 24-17 as it got two points from Morgan Chiles and six more from Amanda Darrow off the bench, but the lead eventually dwindled to just five at halftime thanks to another three-pointer by Chrisman.

The Lions made 55 percent of their shots in the first half, but they were unable to take a sizable lead because of sloppy ball-handling against the Bobcats' full-court press. The Lions turned the ball over multiple times on inbounds passes, and they coughed it up time and again simply trying to break the press.

"The first half with the press we were out of position," Andrews said, explaining his squad's 14 turnovers in the first 16 minutes. "We finally got in the right press-break position and it was no problem."

As soon as the Lions figured out their press-break problems, the Bobcats figured out how to knock down some more three-pointers. Chrisman and Brooke Sanders combined to swish five of five shots from beyond the arc in the third quarter. Suddenly, Lansing's five-point lead was gone and a 49-45 deficit remained with 60 seconds left in the quarter. A three-point play and two more free throws from Radovich trimmed the deficit to just 51-50 entering the fourth quarter.

"When the three's came, we could've easily just gone 'Aww, man,' and gone cold," Andrews said. "But we stayed with it."

A free throw by Lombardino and a layup by Shae Sawalich bumped Basehor's lead to 54-50, but Radovich answered with a layin at the other end. After a Bobcat timeout, Nietzke returned from a foul-trouble-induced five-minute break on the bench and immediately bombed in a three-pointer from the corner. It was the same spot where she delivered the game-winning dagger in overtime against Immaculata on Saturday. This time it put the Lions on top, 55-54, with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left.

Lansing never trailed again.

Back-to-back buckets from Radovich extended Lansing's lead to 59-55. Nietzke added two late free throws and Radovich scored another bucket to put the game away.

Friday's victory conjured up memories of Lansing's victory against Immac because it happened in similar fashion. Radovich said all of the Lions' previous close games helped keep them together late against the Bobcats.

"I think a lot of our wins are helping us down the stretch," she said. "The first Basehor game (helped). The Immac game definitely. The Mill Valley game. We've shown that we can finish, and that's going to be huge later on. It's huge right now obviously."

Radovich led LHS with a game-high 22 points. Twitchel (12 points) and Nietzke (10) joined her in double-digits. Amanda Darrow and Rachel Darrow added eight apiece and Chiles had three.

Lansing will try to collect its fourth straight victory at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it travels to Perry-Lecompton for another KVL showdown.

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