Rally falls short as LHS girls end season against Mill Valley
Shawnee The Lansing High girls had been here before.
In numerous other basketball games early in the season, the Lions dug themselves double-digit deficits before storming back and losing by a narrow margin.
Wednesday night in the first round of Class 5A substate action, LHS did it again. This time the opponent was Mill Valley, and the Jaguars scorched their home nets to a 21-point lead before the Lions came charging back during the third quarter. They got as close as five points before the Jaguars regrouped and pulled away for a 58-45 victory.
The loss ends Lansing's season with an 9-12 record. Mill Valley improves to 10-11 and will play Gardner-Edgerton on Friday at Topeka Seaman with a state tournament berth at stake.
Lansing was shaky from the start. It turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions. Meanwhile, Mill Valley sophomore Carly Santularia was red-hot as she sank three of her first four shots. An additional layup by Stanisha Garlington gave the Jaguars an 8-2 lead.
Mill Valley continued to sizzle throughout the first quarter. It sank seven of eight shots in the quarter and built an 18-7 lead.
Lansing continued to misfire in the second quarter, and Mill Valley continued to roll. Despite missing its last six free throws of the quarter, it extended its lead to 31-13 by halftime.
Mill Valley extended its lead to 36-15 with 3:58 left in the third quarter, but that's when Lansing finally found an answer. Christine Cordes and Katie Neitzke each sank free throws. Nietzke then knocked down a 12-foot jumper. Brittney Lang hit a free throw and Nietzke sank two more from the stripe. The Lions still trailed 41-22 entering the fourth quarter, but it was a start.
Back-to-back buckets by Lang and Nietzke and a Lang three-pointer whittled the deficit to 43-29 with 6:20 left in the game. Then Mill Valley began to melt down. Lansing forced a series of turnovers and turned them into points. Nietzke nailed a baseline jumper and four free throws. Then Cordes scored on a lay-in. Suddenly the deficit was down to single digits at 45-37 with 4:37 left.
Lansing had more opportunities to close the gap, but Cordes, Lang and Amanda Darrow each made just one of two free throws. Then Nietzke missed a pair from the stripe. Lang buried a three-pointer with 1:46 left that pulled the Lions within 50-45, but the five missed free throws loomed large.
Mill Valley had an answer at the stripe as it made eight of 12 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
The Jaguars made just 56.8 percent of their free throws, but they had 44 attempts from the stripe. Those 25 made free throws were the big difference on the scoreboard. Lansing hit 46.2 percent (12-for-26) of its free throws.
Nietzke scored a game-high 17 points for LHS and Lang added 15. Elise Umbarger led Mill Valley with 16 points.
For more on the game, pick up the March 8 edition of The Current.