SKIATOOK – Maci Attalla’s first-ever game in the state tournament was one to remember.
Piedmont will play No. 2 Tulsa East Central in the state semifinals Friday night at 6 at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center.
“She’s the kind of player that if she gets going, she’s hard to stop,” Piedmont head coach Jordan Stark said.
The sophomore wasn’t affected by the biggest stage she’s played on to this point in her career.
“There’s always some butterflies before the game, but once I got out there I felt right at home like I should be here playing,” she said.
Attalla scored nine points to help the Lady Wildcats build a 23-19 halftime lead. She added 18 after half and was the key cog in a 22-8 third quarter spurt. She said she knew from the start that the key to the game was going to be her play in the post.
“They had big girls who usually dominate the paint,” she said, “we knew we needed to shut them down and score on the other end.”
Piedmont limited Shawnee’s front court players Kyla Tarpey and Makyra Tramble to just eight points combined in the game.
“After watching film, that was the one area we just struggled against them two times, which both ended up in losses,” Stark said. “Forcing it inside to (Maci) was really good for her.”
In the third quarter, Piedmont (23-3) was aided by, of all things, a clerical error at the scorer’s table which omitted a Shawnee player from the official scorebook who entered the game in the second half. That resulted in a technical foul that led to a pair of made free throws from Maddie Sperle that ignited Piedmont’s extended run in the third quarter.
The Lady Wildcats’ lead grew from six to 14 after the technical.
“I think that was definitely a boost,” Stark said. “It was a possession we got rest and we made the free throws.”
Sperle was Piedmont’s only other player in double figures with 12. She added a second-half 3-pointer and senior guard Hannah Reasoner hit two treys to help create a formidable inside-outside game for Piedmont.
“We practice all the time, in and out. So when we’re able to kick it in to Maci and she kicks it out, that really works,” Sperle said.
Piedmont’s two previous losses to Shawnee in the regular season were an obvious factor, too. Stark said it gave her team extra motivation and potentially had the Wolves looking past Piedmont.
“It’s possible they were prepping for tomorrow’s game,” Stark said. “We prepped only for tonight and wanted to take it one game at a time. Our girls came ready to go. They wanted Shawnee maybe more than they wanted El Reno.”