TULSA — Piedmont tried to be the first team from Oklahoma to tame Tulsa East Central Friday night at Oral Roberts’ Mabee Center, instead it became just another victim.
The Lady Cardinals (25-3) controlled the inside while guards Ashlin Mead and Lauren Billie each put in 17 points to push top-ranked East Central past Piedmont 67-47 in the semifinals of the Class 5A state tournament.
Piedmont’s season ends at 22-5 overall, tied for the deepest postseason run in 57 years. The last Lady ‘Cat team to advance farther was the 1967 Piedmont squad that captured the program’s only state championship championship.
“Only one team gets to finish the season happy and excited and kissing that gold ball,” head coach Jamie Hill said. “I just told the girls, ‘We’re proud of how far we got. Besides one team in 1967, we’re the one of two teams in Piedmont that has gotten past the first round in the state tournament, so they should be happy.”
Piedmont struggled to match East Central’s size and athleticism inside from the opening tip, and when the Lady Cardinals needed to they went outside for baskets.
“Tonight wasn’t our night. East Central is a great team,” Hill said. “East Central is a great team. They’re very physical, very big. It’s a tough matchup for us. They took us out of our game tonight.”
A night after a red-hot shooting performance, Piedmont couldn’t find the mark on Friday. The Lady Wildcats managed just 28 percent shooting from the field. Piedmont’s leading scorers, Hayden Priddy and Bre Reid went a combined 5-of-22 from the floor.
“We missed free throws, we missed open layups,” Hill said. “Little shots that caused momentum to swing East Central’s way. After being on fire last night, you hope to come out and be somewhat like that again, but it wasn’t our night.”
Piedmont trailed by 13, 30-17, at half, the ‘Cats trimmed East Central’s lead to 12 three times in the second half. But the Lady Cardinals were never threatened.
“We had a short little streak where we tried to switch up defenses,” Hill said. “But at that point it was too difficult because they have good guards that were hitting shots.”