Boys basketball falls to Lawrence Free State

The team falls to 0-3 on the season after another close game

Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

The boys basketball team came up just short against Lawrence Free State, 68-60 on Friday, Dec. 9.

Throughout the game, the team had to adjust to Lawrence Free State’s aggressive and physical play according to senior Blake Montgomery.

“We just had to adjust to the toughness and play tougher ourselves,” Montgomery said. “We can’t really do anything about [the physicality]; we’ve just got to match it.”

After trailing at halftime 30-26, the Jaguars attempted to comeback late in the fourth quarter. Head coach Mike Bennett’s mindset was to slowly try to take the lead and just keep them in the game.

“We were trying to get our guys [to go] downhill and to the basket. We wanted to see if we could create fouls and get the clock to stop,” Bennett said. ““We also tried to get better positioning on rebounds, trying to be on the inside and trying to box out.”

Junior Cooper Kaifes was the team’s leading scorer with 33 points and continually made shots to keep the Jaguars within striking distance. Montgomery attributes Kaifes’ efforts and a belief in themselves to their overall effort throughout the game.

“We knew we just had to keep fighting,” Montgomery said. “We knew we could play with them and we were lucky we had Cooper on fire this game to bring us back.”

Playing in front of a home crowd after back to back away games at the beginning of the season boosted the team’s morale according to Montgomery.

“[Playing at home] helped us,” Montgomery said. “It was nice having a big crowd and all our fans there. It’s also nice being in the gym that we practice in every day.”

Another factor for the first few games of the season being tough have been players from the state champion football team coming straight onto the basketball team. Juniors Brody Flaming and Ike Valencia and sophomore Tanner Moore have had a short adjustment period, and Bennett is appreciative of their efforts on short rest.

“They’re beat down. They played a physical schedule [in football],” Bennett said. “Playing late into the season will wear you down, but they’re handling it just fine. They’re coming to practice every day with good attitudes and working extremely hard to get into basketball shape.”

Even with the slow start to the season and the team continually growing their chemistry, Montgomery knows that they all are on the cusp of potentially something great.

“We’re almost there. We’ve just got to tweak a few things: pick it up on defense, fix some turnover [issues] and I think we’re right there,” Montgomery said. “I need to make sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing and keeping us pumped up. I just need to lead by example out there.”

After the defeat, the team now has a record of 0-3. Nonetheless, Bennett will continue to work with his team to improve as the season progresses.

“We’ve just got to keep working. We’ve got to come into the gym every day and try to get better,” Bennett said. “We’ve progressed from game one to game two to game three. We’re getting closer and closer to where we want to be. We’ve just got to keep giving that complete effort and continue to grind and fight.”

The team will next play at Blue Valley North on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

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