LHS girls hope to ride momentum into 2007
The last time the Lansing High girls basketball team took to the court, it battled to a 44-42 defeat to rival Tonganoxie.
That loss came Dec. 15, but the Lions left the court with smiles on their faces after taking the Chieftains to the wire.
No, the Lions weren't content with losing, but they were ecstatic about finally discovering their offense against the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A.
"It was really exciting to play that game," said senior forward Elizabeth Cristiano, a two-year starter. "Coach's big thing is to not settle for that and to just keep improving. We're hoping that we'll play at that intensity level or further in the rest of our games.
"Tongie we knew was going to be one of our toughest games of the season, and to come out as strong as we did showed all the girls that we can do this. It gave us a real boost of confidence."
Lansing (1-4 overall, 0-2 Kaw Valley League) is about to have its first chance to build on that performance. It returns from a three-week winter break at 6 p.m. Friday when it plays league rival Mill Valley (2-2, 2-1) on the road.
"If we just keep it up and play with that mentality like we did against Tongie, I think it's going to be a really good game : IF we come out like we did," junior guard Katie Nietzke said. "If we come out like we did against Tongie, my bet would be on us."
That's a big "if," but a reasonable "if" nonetheless. Lansing has had Mill Valley's number the last few years. The teams have met five times during the past two seasons and LHS won all five.
Even though Lansing has dominated the series against Mill Valley, every game has been close. The most lopsided game was Dec. 17, 2004. LHS won that meeting 53-41 but had a comfortable lead whittled to four points during the fourth quarter. The other victories were by eight, five, five and 10 points. One of them - last year's 67-62 road win - came in double-overtime after the Lions blew a 15-point lead in the second half. Then-senior Amanda Radovich tallied 30 points. Nietzke also had a career-high 17 points - 10 of them in the overtime periods.
The last time the teams met was March 2, 2006, in the substate semifinals. Lansing won that game 54-44.
The Lions said they expect Friday's game to be as highly contested as those in years past.
"It's going to be a real hard-fought game," Nietzke said. "It'll be a good game to watch. I'm real excited to play in it and see how good they've gotten and to see if it really matters that we lost those three big players."
The "big players" Nietzke was referring to were Radovich, Nichole Twitchell and Rachel Darrow. The three were seniors last year. All of them played major roles in Lansing's success against Mill Valley the past two years.
LHS coach Keith Andrews said the Jaguars present a number of problems that will make them difficult to stop.
"They've got some athletic post people and they've got a lot of length," he said. "They've also got the real good little guard (Carly Santularia) and a couple other kids that have the ability to get hot. We've got to make sure that we take care of our business, keep some of those people in check and just do what we've been doing. We've got to rebound, defend, run some offense and be a little more patient."
If the Lions do those things, Andrews said they have a good chance to jumpstart the second semester of the school year.
"Our goal, No. 1, is to get a league win," he said. "And then hopefully we'll go on a mini-run here : four or five games in a row maybe, get in the (Tonganoxie) tournament and make some noise there, just get some things going good."
After playing Mill Valley, Lansing will return to the court at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Carbondale when it plays Santa Fe Trail.