Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School girls’ basketball team opened up the offensive floodgates early and often Jan. 7, as they overpowered visiting Lawrence Free State High School, 53-19, at GEHS gymnasium.
Junior guard Abri Leiker, senior post Kiersten Markos, and senior guard Kaelin Platt combined to score 30 of the Blazers 37 first-half points and each finished in double figures with Platt scoring 12, Leiker tallying 11, and Markos notching 10.
“We wanted to try to create some pressure and give ourselves some opportunities off the bat,” said Gardner-Edgerton head coach Joe Leiker after the game, “which I think we did pretty well at times. And then we tried to keep it really simple – just run the stuff that is our basic stuff better. I thought we did pretty well. There were a few times I thought we settled for some outside shots a little early, but we shot the ball pretty well, and – when the ball is going in – it makes the offense look all that much better.”
The Lady Firebirds jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead seconds into the game junior guard Marrah Spriggs notched a layup on the game’s opening possession. However, that merely sparked a 14-0 run by GEHS that came in groups of threes. First, Leiker canned a right-corner trey that gave the Blazers a 3-2 lead – a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night. Markos then completed a traditional 3-point play when she was fouled on a bucket in the post and connected on the ensuing free throw to make the score 6-2. Platt then followed that up with a pair of threes, before Markos finished up the run with a post shot off the inbounds. An LFS bucket was then followed by a 6-0 Trailblazer run to end the quarter, and the Blazers led 20-4 after one quarter of play.
Gardner-Edgerton picked up offensively in the 2nd quarter from where they left off in the 1st, by opening the period on a 10-0 run that culminated in Platt’s fourth 3 of the game, giving GEHS a 30-4 advantage. After Free State scored their third basket of the game to make the score 30-6, the Trailblazers ended the half on a 7-0 run that included a left-corner three-pointer from senior guard Ava Bojanskin off an assist from sophomore guard Hannah Phipps and a hanging one-handed jumper from Leiker just before the halftime buzzer. At the break, the Blazers held a 37-6 lead.
The Blazers held their 31-point advantage through the 3rd quarter, forcing a running clock in the 4th quarter and taking home a 53-19 victory.
After the contest, Leiker spoke about how the win was a shot in the arm for his team’s confidence.
“It was really good,” Leiker said, “especially coming off one Tuesday (a 44-40 loss to Mill Valley) where we played and competed well but just didn’t do quite enough. Hopefully, this gives us a boost. I think, particularly, because we were able to execute some different things – our zone defense a little bit, our presses, and then the way we shot the ball. That’s the best we’ve shot the ball all year, by far.”
In addition to Leiker, Markos, and Platt’s offensive output, Gardner-Edgerton also received 4 points each from junior guard Brenley Cunningham and sophomore post Aaliyah Green, 3 points each from Bojanski and Phipps, and 2 points apiece from sophomore post Payton Hofer, sophomore guard Allie Jennings, and junior forward Aaliyah Moss.
With the win, GEHS improves to 2-4 on the season.