Piedmont head boys basketball coach Aaron Daniels and Gazette sports editor Blake Colston discuss their March Madness picks.
Archive for: March 2017
TULSA – Mykayla Dumas scored a game-high 18 points and had 13 rebounds to lead No. 2 Tulsa East Central past fourth-ranked Piedmont 59-46 Friday night in a Class 5A girls state semifinal game at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.
The loss ended Piedmont’s season at 23-4 overall while East Central advanced to the state title game where they’ll play the winner of Ardmore and Tahlequah.
Dumas and Oklahoma State signee Ja’mee Asberry, who scored 16 points and had four steals, led the way for East Central (24-4) in a decisive second half. The Cardinals improved to 12-0 against Class 5A competition this season with the win.
East Central flipped a 30-24 deficit in the second quarter with a 17-0 run that spanned portions of the second and third quarters to build a lead it held the rest of the game.
“We stopped attacking the rim and weren’t making our shots on the inside and we missed free throws,” Piedmont head coach Stark said of what allowed the run to occur. “Other than that we played pretty well.”
After trailing by as many as 13, Piedmont battled back to within seven in the third quarter and the Lady ‘Cats made four consecutive defensive stops to give themselves a chance to pull closer. Piedmont missed two free throws and had three other shots roll around the rim and fall off, though, and never trimmed the deficit further.
“If anybody knew how to fight back with a little bit of time on the clock it would’ve been them,” Stark said of her team. “If those shots had fallen like they have before we would’ve been in the game. It just wasn’t our night.”
The game was even at 30 at half despite Piedmont owning a better shooting percentage overall (45 percent to 32) and from 3-point range (4 of 9 compared to 0 of 6 for East Central). The Cardinals stayed alive with 11 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds. Dumas had 14 points and eight rebounds by half. Read more →
SKIATOOK – Maci Attalla’s first-ever game in the state tournament was one to remember.
On the road to this year’s state tournament, Piedmont’s Lady Wildcats have twice had to defeat teams they’d beaten on multiple occasions in the regular season.
Piedmont completed three-game sweeps of Lawton MacArthur and El Reno to win Regional and Area titles, respectively.
When No. 4 Piedmont faces third-ranked Shawnee in its opening round game at state tonight at 7 in Skiatook, the Lady Wildcats will face a different challenge. This time, Piedmont (22-3) faces a Shawnee (21-6) team that’s handed the ‘Cats two of their three losses this season.
If it’s a challenge to beat a team three times in one season, like is the common perception, Piedmont is in a good position, head coach Jordan Stark said. She also dismissed any thought that this was a bad opening round draw for her team.
“I think the girls feel like they have something to prove because I think the girls know we didn’t play well against them, especially the second time,” she said. “I’m excited to see what our comeback is going to be. It’s almost like we have a little extra push to do well.”
In the first matchup, Shawnee won at Piedmont 44-40 in early December. The Wolves won 62-39 in both teams’ regular season finale Feb. 14. Both times, the Wolves’ inside play was a big factor which allowed their offense to find a rhythm. Slowing that down this time around will be a key, senior guard Kish Chandler said.
“That’s where we need to work the most,” she said. “And we need to push the ball when we have the opportunity.”
Chandler added a third key to the game, which is hard to argue with.
“We need to score more points than they do,” she said.
This is Piedmont’s third trip to state in the last four seasons, so with four seniors in the starting lineup it would be reasonable to assume this bunch is heavy on state tournament playing experience. Not exactly, though. Read more →
EDMOND – Dylan Hahn scored 22 points to lead Piedmont to a 64-57 overtime victory over Lawton MacArthur Friday night in an Area consolation seminfinal game at Edmond North High School.
Hahn’s basket in the lane with 31.4 to play in overtime proved to be the game-winner.
20th-ranked Piedmont (15-10) advances to Saturday night’s Area consolation final vs. Shawnee at 8:00 while No. 9 MacArthur’s season ends at 14-12 overall.
Piedmont had lost twice to the Highlanders previously this season, but won the most crucial of the three meetings in come-from-behind fashion.
“This is a testament to these guys’ growth throughout the year,” Piedmont first-year head coach Aaron Daniels said afterwards. “They’ve really stuck with it and believed in themselves.”
Mac led by seven at half, 26-19, but Piedmont rallied to tie the game at 37 by the end of the third quarter and led by as many six points in the fourth. Sage Peyton, who scored 12 points, gave Piedmont a 43-37 lead with 5:56 to play.
MacArthur head coach Marco Gagliardi said his team’s defense helped let the Wildcats back in the game.
“We just weren’t executing. We kept letting them get into the paint and into the paint,” he said. “It didn’t help that we were in foul trouble. That hurts. A lot of things contributed to that.”
Piedmont won the overtime period 11-4 with five different players contributing points.
“We showed a lot of resiliency tonight,” Daniels said.
The Wildcats hoped to limit the inside scoring of Mac big men Anthony Love and Mike Simpson in the game, who had their way with Piedmont in a 21-point win in Lawton earlier this season. The pair combined for 23 points, but only 12 in the second half and overtime. Love fouled out with 2:00 to play in regulation.
“We wanted to pack our defense in and really limit what those guys could do,” Daniels said.
In response to the Wildcats sagging defense, MacArthur made just 4 of 20 3-point attempts. Still, Simpson managed to tie the game on a layup and foul with 2.3 seconds to play. He had a chance to give the Highlanders the lead, but his free throw attempt missed long.
“Some games they’ve gone down this year and some games they haven’t,” Gagliardi said of his team’s shooting. “I’m not going to say a whole lot else about it, but I felt like we got good shots from the people that we wanted to take them.”
The Highlanders were led by freshman guard Sep Reese, who put in 18 points.
“I hope those underclassmen pay attention to how bad those seniors are hurting in there,” Gagliardi said. “Because it hurts and they’ll never put on a MacArthur jersey ever again.”
Piedmont will now play for its first state tournament berth since the 2014 season Saturday against Shawnee. The Wolves are 2-0 against PHS this season, but won the last contest by just one point, 48-47, Feb. 14 in Shawnee.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Junior Sarah Griswold played sparingly in each of Okarche’s two previous trips to the state tournament.
Friday against Pond Creek-Hunter, Griswold never left the floor, and with good reason.
The 6-foot post scored 10 points on 5 for 5 shooting and nabbed five rebounds and two blocked shots in Okarche’s 47-35 victory over the Lady Panthers to advance to the Class A state final Saturday at 1:45 against top-ranked Seiling.
“I’m so proud of her. She’s never been on this floor. She was on the team last year, but didn’t get to play a lot,” head coach Cherie Myers said. “But to step up in a big situation like that was impressive.”
Griswold gave Okarche (26-4) a 32-21 lead on a transition layup midway through the third quarter, but Pond Creek battled back to even the score at 32 early in the fourth quarter. That’s when Griswold did her best work, putting in five straight points to regain the lead for the Lady Warriors. Okarche led the rest of the way.
“We just knew we had to keep pushing and playing hard,” Griswold said of the spurt.
Griswold played a fair amount during the regular season as a sophomore, but never developed into a consistent scorer and her minutes dropped in the postseason. This season, she’s averaging 14 points and seven rebounds per game.
“I think she’s matured in not only playing her game, but she knows when I’m barking and griping she handles that, which before that always bothered her,” Myers said.
Senior Kinsey Neiderer added 11 points. She scored the first six points of the second half for OHS, all from inside the paint, to extend Okarche’s 23-19 halftime lead to 10.
“They’d been doubling down on Sarah so we tried to go to the offside to Kinsey and she responded,” Myers said. “They’re two pretty tough to handle if they’re playing well.”
Earlier in the day, No. 1 Seiling beat Cyril 47-35 to reach the finals. The defending state champions are 27-1 this season and haven’t lost since Dec. 29 against Dale.
“We’re excited to get to play them,” Griswold said.
Pond Creek-Hunter (21-7) was led by Brooke Rayner’s 16 points. She was Pond Creek’s only double-figure scorer. Paige Owens added 10 points and six rebounds for Okarche.
The Lady Panthers only lead of the game came on their first basket. They shot 36 percent for the game and made 5 of 14 3-point attempts. Okarche shot 39.5 percent from the floor, connecting on 4 of 11 from 3-point range and 13 of 19 free throws.
YUKON – Underdog Sentinel threw its best punch at second-ranked Okarche Thursday night in the quarterfinal round of the girls Class A State Tournament at Yukon High School.
The Lady Warriors swung harder, though.
Led by 18 points from Kinsey Neiderer, 15 from Sarah Griswold and 12 more from Bailey Vogt, Okarche held off a game Sentinel squad, 71-50 to advance to Friday’s state semifinals against Pond Creek-Hunter set for a noon tip at State Fair Arena.
“I want every bit of (Pond Creek),” said Neiderer. The Panthers eliminated Okarche from state in the semifinals last season. They won 50-47 over Frontier Thursday.
“We feel like we owe them one,” Okarche head coach Cherie Myers said of the Panthers.
First, Okarche had to get by Sentinel and it took a total team effort to do so. In all, five of the six Lady Warriors that played in the game scored in double figures. Hope Sellers and Bailey Baustert had 10 apiece. Paige Owens scored six points.
“We’re hard to guard because all of us are so versatile,” Neiderer said.
The Bulldogs (22-12), who were unranked when the playoffs began, won six consecutive elimination games to reach Thursday’s tilt with OHS and didn’t appear bothered by the big stage. Chelsea Rhoades scored a game-high 21 points and Debra Reimer added 17. Together, the pair made six 3-pointers.
“They had nothing to lose and they played like it,” Myers said.
The Lady Warriors led by only two, 16-14, after an up and down first quarter, but stretched their lead to 17 by half, 36-19, holding the Bulldogs to two baskets in the second period and creating points off turnovers.
Sentinel tried to claw back in the second half, but never closed the deficit to less than 13. Every time Sentinel hit a big shot, Okarche responded.
Neiderer and Griswold took turns quelling Bulldog rallies. Griswold scored nine in the third quarter and Neiderer had 12 of her 18 in the final quarter, including a 3-pointer that stretched the Lady Warriors’ lead to 17 with 4:12 to go.
“I was pleased with that. That’s what it’s going to take for us to get where we want to be,” Myers said.
The teams combined to hit 15 3-pointers in the game, with Sentinel hitting eight and Okarche seven.
EDMOND – Call them the cardiac ‘Cats.
Piedmont’s fourth-ranked girls basketball team earned its second thrilling win in as many games Thursday night at Edmond North’s Siberian Gym with a 57-51 Area Finals victory over El Reno in overtime that clinched the Lady Wildcats’ third state tournament berth in four seasons.
Kish Chandler banked in a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to play in regulation to tie the game at 48 and Piedmont limited El Reno to just three points in the overtime period to complete a three-game sweep of the rival Indians this season.
“We’ve done a good job of playing together as a team,” head coach Jordan Stark said. “They’ve really hung tight and bonded together toward the end of games, which is what’s won us games like these.”
This one looked like it might be El Reno’s, though.
Hayden Freeman hit a 3-pointer to give the Indians their first lead of the second half with 31.3 to play in the fourth quarter after El Reno trailed by as many as nine in the final period. Freeman followed up the 3-pointer with a basket off a steal with 0:10 remaining. She finished with 13 points.
On Piedmont’s final possession, its designed play didn’t go as planned, so Chandler, a senior, improvised with a desperation shot from the top of the key that hit glass and rattled home.
“That’s exactly what we drew up,” Stark said sarcastically.
There was some question at the time as to whether or not Chandler was behind the 3-point line, but Stark said it was clear after watching the game tape that it was a 3-pointer. Chandler knew then was ‘clearly’ behind the line.
“I would never have even gotten close,” she said. “My whole question was could I make it? There was no question in my mind that I pulled up from behind the line.”
It was the second clutch shot in as many postseason games from Piedmont (22-3), which got a last-second game-winner from Maddie Sperle to upend Lawton MacArthur a game earlier in the regional finals.
Sperle scored a game-high 19 points Thursday with 14 coming in the second half and overtime. Maci Attalla had 14 and Hannah Reasoner scored 11. Massey Beard scored 13 for El Reno (16-10).
Fresh off their scintillating come-from-behind regional championship-clinching win over Lawton MacArthur, the fourth-ranked Piedmont Lady Wildcats will take aim at a bigger prize tonight in Edmond.
There’s a berth in next week’s Class 5A State Tournament on the line when the Lady Wildcats face an El Reno team that they’ve already beaten twice this season. The game will tipoff at 6:30 at Edmond North High School.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to these kinds of games,” head coach Jordan Stark said of her 21-3 team that’s rebounded from a 6-18 record the previous season. “The girls are very focused.”
Piedmont used a bucket from senior forward Maddie Sperle in the final seconds to beat MacArthur, 54-53 to cap a wild comeback Saturday. The Lady ‘Cats pounded Western Heights in the opening game of regionals, 71-36.
No. 7 El Reno (16-9) edged Lawton Eisenhower 46-45 to reach the Area Finals. Each of Piedmont’s victories over the Indians this season have been by just one basket. First in a 51-49 season-opening win at Piedmont and then in a 48-46 win at Jenks Simmons Fieldhouse Feb. 3.
The teams are familiar with each other, they’re rivals and this time there’s a trip to the state tournament at stake. No one expects there to be much separation between the two teams.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in one year, but we’re confident we can do it,” Sperle said.