For the fourth-ranked Piedmont Lady Wildcats, playing their first two postseason games at home is only part of the reason why they’re confident that they can make their third state tournament appearance in four seasons.
Beyond that, the Lady Wildcats (19-3) know they’re battled tested – Piedmont is 7-2 against the 5A Top 20 this season, with its only losses coming to Shawnee – and that they have as much talent as anyone they’ll face going forward.
“I think we have the most talent,” senior Maddie Sperle said, “it’s just about if we come out every night and use it.”
The road to the state tournament begins tonight at 8 p.m. against Western Heights at Collett Fieldhouse, then continues on, most likely, Saturday at 1:30 in Piedmont against the winner of No. 16 Lawton MacArthur and Guthrie.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to play a couple extra games on your home court it automatically gives you some extra energy,” head coach Jordan Stark said. Piedmont is 9-1 at home this season.
PHS is also 6-0 against the teams in its home regional and has won five of the six by double figures, so there’s plenty of reason for the Lady Wildcats to feel good about advancing. Sperle said taking teams lightly can’t be something they do this postseason, though.
“We have to come out and play hard. We aren’t going to beat every team with just our athletic ability,” she said.
If Piedmont stays in the winner’s bracket as expected, the Lady Wildcats will face another familiar foe, El Reno, in the Area tournament for a chance to go to state. It’s an El Reno team that Piedmont has beaten twice this year, which Stark said is both a good and bad thing, potentially. Each game with the Indians was decided by just two points.
“That matchup is a little scary because it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Stark said. “But I’m excited to play them again because the girls know what to expect and what they have to do to stop them.”
In terms of wins and losses, Piedmont has faced very little adversity this season, averaging just one loss per month, but will enter the postseason off a 62-39 drubbing at third-ranked Shawnee in a game that was for the Suburban
Conference championship. Stark said it was Piedmont’s worst performance of the season and came at a bad time. Not the worst, though.
“I would rather get that game out now then it out come out in the playoffs at any point,” Stark said.
The second-year coach has been hesitant to talk about her team’s chances of advancing to the state tournament previously this season, but with the playoffs set to get underway she stated the Lady Wildcats’ goal plainly.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t make it (to state),” Stark said. “For us to succeed, we all have to buy in and be on the same page.”