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.