Some statistical disparities between South and Lawrence Free State didn’t match the reality that South was a three-pointer away from sending Thursday’s Class 6A boys quarterfinal game to overtime.
South’s fouls and turnovers gave Free State extra chances and enabled the Firebirds to offset mostly terrible shooting. But after Free State failed to turn the extra chances into a comfortable lead, South had an opportunity.
South scored at the buzzer, but on a tip-in after a three-pointer was blocked. Free State escaped with a 42-41 win and South was left thinking about what might have happened without everything extra.
Free State plays in Friday’s semifinals against Topeka.
“I point out two different things,” South coach Chuck Gunter said. “We had 15 turnovers to their five and they shot 26 free throws to our 10. I felt like we got fouled some. We played through contact or maybe there was a call that went their way. But you have to give credit to Lawrence Free State, they played a heck of a game.”
Free State didn’t make a basket until near the end of the first quarter after South scored 10 of the game’s first 13 points. Free State never figured out its shooting, making 6 of 26 shots in the first, third and fourth quarters.
A 15-8 advantage in the second quarter – and one key stretch in the third – helped Free State hold off the Titans.
South big man Remy Lemovou, who scored 11 points with 15 rebounds and six blocks, briefly went to the bench with about two minutes to go in the third quarter after picking up his third foul.
That left Free State’s 6-foot-6 center, Jalan Robinson, with a mismatch inside upon which he quickly seized. With Lemovou out, Robinson scored consecutive baskets to put Free State ahead 30-25 before South’s center returned.
Robinson scored all eight of Free State’s third quarter points and finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“Free State did a good job of feeding their post player,” Gunter said. “They did a good job passing into the post and they took advantage of our rim protector sitting on the bench.
“Finally I put (Lemovou) back in and said, ‘If you foul out, you foul out, but we’re going to go down fighting.’ ”
South held Free State’s Garrett Luinstra, the Firebirds’ best scorer, to 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Free State missed nine of 13 three-point attempts and never led by more than five.
Free State had more chances, but South had one at the end that could have canceled out the extra.
“We had five options with five guys who had the options to shoot the three,” Gunter said. “We ran the picks correctly and we mishandled the ball a little bit so we were probably three seconds from not being able to get that shot off.”
Wichita South: Punnett 13, Pugh 4, Silmon 3, Lemouvu 11, Loggins 5, Johnson 3.
Lawrence Free State: Luinstra 15, McCaffrey 2, Butler 8, Robinson 11, White 3, King 3.