In the wee early hours of April 8th, 2008, Johnny Kane gobbled the best Denny’s breakfast he ever had.
Just hours earlier, Kane was in the Alamo Dome for Mario’s Miracle – the shot that propelled the Kansas Jayhawks to an NCAA National Championship victory. But in the front row, he was no spectator.
Kane was the sports director for KSTN in Topeka at the time, a middle stop in a well-traveled career path. He studied broadcast journalism at the University of Ohio and earned a post-graduate internship in Hopkinsville, Ky. After three months, he took a job at the same WKAG station and stayed for over two years. Following five years in Topeka, including covering of the Jayhawks’ national championship, Kane moved to KMBC-9 News, the ABC affiliate in Kansas City.
Why was the 2008 NCAA Final Four your favorite event to cover?
“When you cover a team that ‘wins it all’ it’s a pretty special feeling. You go on the road with the guys and experience the highs and lows along with them. I thought it was a great group to cover the entire season. It was a magical run, and I think Bill Self dialed up the right calls at the right times to get them there. The championship was played in San Antonio, which is one of my favorite U.S. cities.”
What was the weekend experience like in San Antonio?
“When you’re strolling down the River Walk and see the top college basketball coaches all gathered at the same restaurant, it’s quite a sight. We worked hard all week to bring the Topeka community all the sights and sounds of San Antonio. There wasn’t much down time, but once I filed my final report on Monday night, early Tuesday morning, I ate the best Denny’s breakfast I’d ever had.
How much did you get to “enjoy” that experience, even though you were there for work?
“I took a lot of pictures and saved many of the tapes from that weekend, so I could reflect. It was a special night. When you work hard, even if it’s not a national championship setting, you draw enjoyment from the material you produce.”
What is the coolest restaurant and bar in San Antonio?
Working in Topeka, was there a certain Jayhawk feel for the town during the tournament?
“Without a doubt. It’s all people wanted to talk about when I met them. I remember agreeing to get a matching Jayhawk tattoo with some woman if they won it all. She’s still trying to track me down.”
What was your reaction to Mario Chalmers’ shot?
“I was sitting courtside about 30 feet from Chalmers when he hit the shot. I leapt feet first into a security guard. He helped me back to my seat. Later that night I called my mom from the court. She became a KU fan because of it. True story.”
In overtime, what was the feel of the arena? Was all the momentum for KU?
“You did have that sense. You never really ‘know’ but everyone in media row knew that the OT session was a mere formality. The pendulum had swung in KU’s favor, and the environment was truly electric.”
What that evening like after the game?
“I spent the majority of the night working, editing our packages to feed back for the morning shows. I’m sure it was crazy. All I know is the line at Denny’s went out the door. I ended up sitting with an assistant coach from St. Mary’s.”
Do you remember a particular journalist segment you did from that weekend?
“I don’t know if it was our best piece, but the game recap about Mario’s shot was special because we did our standup from that spot on the floor. The confetti was all over the place. The only video used in that piece was the shot.”
Who was your favorite interview from the weekend?
“The best interview was with Bill Self following the win. He was exactly the same.”
What are a few other events that compare to Mario’s Miracle?
“That stands alone, but I really enjoyed covering the Emporia State women’s 2010 national championship in St. Joe. That was a special team that cut down the nets. I also have fond memories of covering the MLB All-Star Game in 2012.”
What type of “Kansas City” event would need to occur to take over as the number one memory?
“Royals World Series would be the closest anything could come.”
The Jayhawks just couldn’t catch a break.
For extended periods of time in Friday evening’s 1-0 loss to TCU, the Kansas Women’s soccer team dominated their opponent. The Jayhawks were ball hogs, keeping the game in their offensive third nearly the entire second half.
Despite their best efforts, they were unable to net an equalizer to push the game into overtime. Possibly the best chance came when midfielder Hanna Kallmaier side stepped a defender and ripped a shot from just outside of the penalty box, only to find solid crossbar. The ball ricocheted straight down, and the Jayhawks were unable to muscle in the rebound through a scrum of defenders.
A corner kick in the final minute spit the ball out to the top of the box but again a desperation shot sailed high and the clock sped towards zero.
Junior goaltender Kaitlyn Stroud played a spectacular game making multiple impressive saves. Her only blemish was a perfectly placed header by Kelly Johnson off a TCU corner. The ball flew to the back post where Johnson tucked it beautifully into the upper right hand corner for what proved to be the game winner.
The Jayhawks pushed feverishly for the duration of the second half but never made the TCU goalkeeper produce a difficult save.
The game turned a bit feisty in the final 15 minutes after a few hard fouls each way. Time needed to be called for the referee to work out a few disputes between players.
The Jayhawks fell to 5-7-2 overall and 0-2-1 in conference play. They will travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia next Friday.
Lawrence Free State was strong on both sides of the ball as they beat Shawnee Mission Northwest 30-6 in JV football action Saturday morning.
Running back Kalim Dowedell scored twice on the ground for the Firebirds after a scoreless first quarter.
Defensive coordinator Max Cordova had high expectations for his unit at halftime.
“We have one pick (interception). One is not enough,” Cordova said. “Don’t wait for next year. There should be a big egg on the scoreboard.”
Free State’s defense shut out the Cougars after giving up an early second quarter touchdown.
Linebacker Darian Lewis added another interception in the second half. Andrew Keating also caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tye Carter to push the score to 30-6.
Free State’s junior varsity record moved to 2-0.
Dowedell: Two rushing touchdowns
Keating: One receiving touchdown
Murray: One receiving touchdown
Lawrence Free State takes on Shawnee Mission Northwest: JV high school football
SMNW gets its first and only big play of the day.
Tye Carter battles to complete a touchdown pass to Blake Murray.
Free State defense holds with an interception right before halftime.
Inside Free State’s halftime huddle.
Halftime update with Coach Cordova.
Kalim Dowedell punches it in from 1 yard out.
End of 3rd quarter update.
Post game with Coach Cordova.
Post game with Andrew Keating
Lawrence Free State’s defense flew around the field making big plays Friday night. The Firebirds drubbed Shawnee Mission North 47-7 in the season opener behind five first half turnovers.
North’s offense struggled all night as a fast and physical Free State defense took advantage of the Indians’ young quarterbacks. The Firebirds kept North from crossing midfield until the 11:30 mark of the 4th quarter.
Firebird linebacker Blake Winslow caused problems all night leading the blitzing defense with a fumble recovery, 5 tackles and 3 sacks.
“Once you can get the snap count down you can get a big jump,” Winslow said. “You get a jump on that tackle and you are home free.”
Winslow also added a receiving touchdown to put Free State up 14-0 less than three minutes into the game.
North’s second errant punt snap of the night led to another score from running back Stan Skwarlo. Joe Dineen, who is heading to KU next year to play safety, found Keith Loneker down the seam for a 27 yard strike to cap the 1st quarter at 28-0.
The rout was on for the Firebirds. But Free State head coach Bob Lisher was focused on his team getting better.
“We want to see where we execute, see where we don’t,” Lisher said. “We want to continue to get better. We want to continue those things we should be doing.
“I’m not sure we did all that tonight. But it’s the first time out and sometimes it’s hard to maintain your intensity when you’re up 47-zip but you still have to play and play hard, regardless of the score.”
The first team played just one series in the second half.
The Firebirds are coming off a 10-2 season in which they lost to eventual champion Shawnee Mission West in the state semi-finals. Starting on the right foot was important to guiding this new team back to high expectations.
“We definitely wanted to prove a point tonight,” Winslow said. “We’ve carried that loss around with us all year long. We wanted to come out here and get hot and get some momentum.”
Free State is ranked fourth in Kansas’ class 6a, according to kpreps.com. Defending champion West is second behind Derby. Free State will head to Shawnee Mission Northwest next week.
Dineen: Passing – 6-9, 73 yards 2td. Rushing – 65 yards, 1td.
Winslow: 5 tackles, fumble recovery, 3 sacks. Receiving – 1td.
Loneker: 2 sacks, fumble return td. Receiving – 1td.
Skwarlo: Rushing – 48 yards, 2td.