A slim, three-point lead at halftime must have angered Olathe East. Three straight field goals in the paint by 6-foot-6 forward Cedric Roland in the paint at the start of the third quarter got the Hawks soaring high Friday evening at rival Olathe South.
In 3 minutes, 31 seconds, Olathe East scored 16 points, breaking open a close game and flying to 64-55 victory.
Olathe East closed the regular season with a 16-4 record. Olathe South dropped to 13-7.
“This was amazing,” said Olathe East senior guard Cameron Hunter about the atmosphere. “This is the best rivalry in sports, Olathe East versus Olathe South. Nothing else is better than this.”
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Roland gave the Olathe East student section plenty to cheer about when he scored those six quick points early in the third, increasing the Hawks’ lead to 33-24. After two free throws from Olathe South senior Brian Sullivan, Olathe East went on another scoring run. It started with a three-pointer from senior Kameron Barnes, followed by another trey from Hunter.
“We just played as a team, and when you play as a team, good things happen,” said Hunter, who finished with 13 points.
The Hawks were in high gear. Senior guard Dion Union got back-to-back fastbreak layups, giving Olathe East a 43-26 lead. The Hawks finished with 23 points in the third quarter and held Olathe South to 11. Olathe East went into the fourth quarter with a 50-35 lead.
“Collectively, we came out as a group and we played well together,” said Roland, who finished with 16 points. “We got out off the rebounds and we just pushed the ball.”
The Falcons cooled down Olathe East at the start of the fourth quarter, holding the Hawks scoreless the first 5 minutes. The cold spell allowed Olathe South to make a run, scoring seven straight points to close to 50-42.
Union restored order for Olathe East, knocking down two free throws with 2:55 left in the game.
Olathe South basically traded points the rest of the way. Still, Olathe South senior Zack Fields played well throughout, finishing with a game-high 25 points.
“This win meant a lot to us,” Roland said. “We are trying to get our momentum going and get ready for state. We want to win a state title this year so this game meant a lot to us.”
In a first half that saw nine lead changes, Olathe East managed to take a slim 27-24 lead into halftime.
Olathe East had the play of the half late in the first quarter when Hunter drove through traffic in the lane and slammed home a dunk that tied the game at 12-12.
Otherwise, the first quarter belonged to Olathe South’s Fields. His two free throws near the end of the first quarter gave the Falcons a 14-12 lead. Fields scored 10 points in the first quarter.
The Hawks regained the lead early in the second quarter on an inside basket by Roland. The lead then changed hands seven times until forward Josiah Talbert drilled a three-pointer, putting the Hawks up 22-20. Olathe East followed with four more points for a 26-20 advantage.