Lawson Delivers for Stallions

Samia Roark (#21) left, Rianna Lawson right



by David Brox, davidbrox@shukc.com

I told myself last season after the Sumner Academy vs Tonganoxie sub-state game that I would sleep before I wrote articles.  It allows me to collect my thoughts without hopefully being as offensive.  I watch most games nearly emotionless as to not show favorites when two teams in the SHUKC area are playing each other.  Although I have family that play and having graduated from Schlagle it is important that I stay as unbiased as I can. 

Last night the Lady Schlagle Stallions hosted the Sumner Academy Sabres.  A budding rivalry now has gone up a notch this year with the continued success of Sumner and emergence of Schlagle.  The Stallions came into the game 15-3 with a lot of the line.  They needed a win to lock down a share of the league title and a number 1 seed in their sub-state.  Sumner’s seeding is pretty much set in their sub-state but don’t think for one second they wanted to share the league title.

The story of the first half was foul trouble.  Elizabeth Vaughn played incredibly well in driving to the basket and rebounding the ball.  The Sabres had at least 3 “and 1” opportunities in the first quarter.  The Stallions found a couple of starters in early foul trouble.  For as well as the Sabres played in that first quarter in terms of collecting fouls and finishing at the rim the disaster at the free throw line reared its head early.  Schlagle scrapped their way to a 15-15 tie.

On to the second quarter where Sumner Academy still dominated the glass and played bully ball getting to the rim.  The outside shooting was non-existent but again the second chance opportunities kept presenting themselves.  Mean while Schlagle who is not an incredibly deep team at all was decimated by fouls.  It is this moment 3:30 till halftime with the score 24-21 that we hit our the critical point and deciding factor in the game.

Schlagle had 3 starters sitting on the bench with 3 fouls and another on the court with 2.  Despite the horrid shooting from outside and the free throw line Sumner Academy looked to have the clear advantage and would defeat the Stallions by attrition.  It was like I was standing next to Coach Western and talking to him about just trying anything you can to getting to half time with out being down 10.  Sumner Academy played zone a good portion of the half and the game for that matter because Rianna Lawson was the best player on the court and unstoppable (we will get back to her shortly).  Coach Western’s yelled loud enough for the entire gym to here for Lawson to stand out top.  First she dribbled for 30 second and then passed to just hold the ball.  3:30 second started ticking away.  At 3:00 I tweet out.

Someone is getting out coached here.

— SHUKC (@OdoggBrox) February 26, 2016

This is the part I wanted to sleep on because I positively hate to criticize coaches but this was a learning moment for Sumner head coach Carlai Moore who is in her first season.  In that moment the only thing I can think of was pride was preventing her from seeing the reason why Coach Western wanted to stall.  I believe that the first thought that came to her mind was that I am not going to let him dictate how I am going to play defense.  Yet another example of the 3 layers of thinking

Sumner who had earned momentum in the game and again accumulated a mountain worth of fouls on Schlagle sat back and cheered while their golden opportunity to pressure up and continue to pound the Stallions ticked away.  To compound the matter and rob Sumner of all momentum Lawson buried a 3 at the buzzer from well beyond the 3 point line.  An absolute gift for Schlagle as the game was tied at 24.

I could almost and will end the game comments right here as the Stallions road that momentum to the tune of a 20-10 run in the 3rd quarter.  Sumner was doing the right things.  The foul trouble continued for Schlagle as two starters eventually fouled out but it just wasn’t their night from the free throw and 3 point line.  Schlagle would go on to win the game 61-47 with Rianna Lawson scoring 24, Ashley Daniels with 11 and Kiara Brown who likely only played 8 minutes scored 10.

Thoughts:

Rianna Lawson is a special next level talent.  Her ball handling and moves to the basket are very good.  She is a dominating player with still yet many things to improve.  She is grossly left hand dominant.  The problem at this level for her opponents is that even if you play her left hand which Samia Roark did a great of doing last night, Lawson is still able to go left.  Coach Western’s counter to over playing her left hand was to send a screen.  Sumner did not make the adjustment to have the screeners defender jump the screen or almost switch to force her back to her right hand.

Lawson is a division 1 player if she improves the following:

She should spend this entire summer working on going right.  If she is able to be just above average driver to her right side then she becomes very viable at the next level in my opinion.

Working on her right hand will allow her to work on splitting screens.  Her default right now is always to go around.  She is fast enough to get around players at this level but against good competition that isn’t going to work. 

Her much improved jump shot has to move up from her hip.  Good form but the shot is a little flat and she fires from very low.

I want to be clear before I get some hate comments or emails.  I think she is an incredibly gifted player as a sophomore and that may not be obvious with what I am saying above.  The very good players I have covered over the years I like to share what my untrained eye sees.  If I can see it then so is someone else.  So before you finish reading the comments below I will eliminate a lot of drama and say that Lawson is going to be on the All SHUKC team.  She is 1 of the top 10 players in my area and scary enough for other teams she has room to improve.

Coach Western has become a treasure for the Schlagle Stallions.  As an alumni I could not be more thrilled with what he has accomplished in two years at Schlagle.  This team has a legit shot at going to state with Topeka West and the winner of Lansing vs Washington standing in their way.  Back to back shares of a league title is so impressive and will have him as a Coach of the Year candidate.  I have heard comments about recruiting and let me explain the bottom line on this.  When you display the ability to win and create an atmosphere that improves players then you really don’t have to recruit.  The environment and his ability which was on full display last night will make good players come to Schlagle. 

Make no mistake with my earlier comments about the decision to allow the stall.  This game was lost by Sumner behind the arch and at the free throw line.  It is possible that if they make 60% from the line they win by 5.  So while I point to the specific coaching decision the players in the end have to own this aspect of the loss.

Give me your thoughts below.  I would love to hear a counter to my thoughts on the situation.  If you are shy feel free to email me.

7 Comments

  1. Excellent read! I agree with your observations. I tell her that time and time again. Crazy thing is that she's right handed. We will see how she progresses in the next 2 years!

  2. As an alumni of Schlagle, I am thrilled to be in the house watching these young ladies ball out. Coach Westerns coaching strategies out Coach some coaches which we clearly witnessed last night. Riana Lawson made me proud!
    I look forward to my daughter Sa'Mone Springsteen joinging them on the court next season.

  3. As a Sumner fan who was there last night….I was very impressed with how well Schlagle balanced their foul trouble throughout the game. I really felt like the 3 pointer at the half took the momentum away from Sumner and they never got it back. I also agree that this late in the year, free throw shooting in high school continues to frustrate me as a fan. There were so many free throws missed badly on both sides, I hope that this does not come back to harm either team going into regionals. Great atmosphere and ready to back for round 2 with the boys tonight. By the way, I was accompanying the cheerleaders for Sumner last night and sat with a group of Schlagle fans (Family of #11) and must tell you that I have never enjoyed watching a game more with people cheering against my team. So respectful and so passionate. Good luck to Schlagle's girls in 5A (I am glad we are not in their bracket)

  4. Coach Western is the best Coach in the league by far. He's still young and starting his career. By the time he's finished, he'll have more rings than Phil Jackson and Geno Auriema combined.

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