Special to The Sun
Fourth-quarter free throws never felt so good for the Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves.
Santa Fe hit 15-of-18 charity shots in the final frame to secure a 57-50 win over the Southmoore Lady SaberCats and capture a Class 6A regional championship on its home floor.
Senior guard Tamara Lee carried the Wolves down the stretch with 11-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.
Lee led all scorers with 27 points and nailed four 3-pointers in four attempts.
“Tamara Lee is just an unbelievable player,” said Paul Bass, Santa Fe head coach. “She’s too fast. If you foul her she’s going to drain just about every free throw.”
Lee had help from sophomore Aahliyah Jackson, who registered a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. All 12 points came in the first half.
After winning an unbalanced contest against U.S. Grant in the first round of the regional, the Wolves started a bit slow against a feisty Southmoore squad.
The SaberCats jumped out to a 4-0 lead and were up 10 just minutes into the second quarter.
But that’s when the Wolves employed a defensive switch that seemed to work.
“Our staple defense is our spread defense,” Bass said. “We haven’t ran it in a long time. They probably haven’t seen it. We came out with it and finally started getting stop after stop.”
Jackson hit back-to-back field goals to cut the deficit to six and then Mariah Williams, a senior guard, hit another bucket to draw the Wolves within four.
The defense continued to create offense for Santa Fe and the Wolves used another Jackson basket and a 3-pointer from Lee to take their first lead of the game at 27-26.
“We’ve been down before. We’ve been down to Broken Arrow and several teams,” Bass said. “We have the experience of coming back; taking our time. For us, it’s all about defense.”
The game remained close and was tied 40-40 at the end of three quarters.
After its lone field goal at the start of the fourth, Santa Fe pulled away with 11 free throws made in the final three minutes.
Southmoore went 1-for-8 from 3-point range in the final quarter, hitting the lone trey to cut into Santa Fe’s 10-point lead with only seconds left in regulation.
Serithia Hawkins led Southmoore with 14 points.
With the win, the Wolves advance to the area tournament with a dazzling 23-1 record.