Special to The Sun
The Deer Creek Lady Antlers advanced to the Class 5A state championship game for the second year in a row after defeating the Shawnee Wolfpack, 33-29 at the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University Friday night.
“It is so difficult to get here two times in a row with different players,” Deer Creek coach, Totsy Manning said after the game. “Very rarely does your team have the same starting players from the year before. This team had to regroup and find their niche. We had some struggles, but who wants to be peaking in December? It’s better to be peaking right now.”
Deer Creek handed Shawnee their only loss of the season and held star McKenzie Cooper to just 14 points on 4-for-17 shooting. The Wolfpack struggled as a team as well, shooting just 20.9 percent (9-for-43) from the floor.
“I think that our team definitely stresses the defensive side of the ball,” Manning explained. “You’re not going to win a championship if you don’t play great, solid defense.
“We spend hours and hours every week focusing on defense. We know you’re going to work for every single shot that you get.”
Deer Creek struggled as well, but was able to turn things around in the second half.
The Lady Antlers shot just 21.4 percent in the first two quarters, but turned around to shoot 40 percent over the final 16 minutes.
Dakota Vann led the way for Deer Creek with a double-double —15 points and 11 rebounds. Shae Scheffler finished with six points and seven boards, Whitney Jones scored five and Bayli Blanchard, Abbey Renner and Emily Gillis combined for seven points.
After the win, Manning entered the team’s locker room and screamed, “What did we do?”
“We whooped somebody!” her team responded. “We say that every single time we enter the locker room after a win,” Manning noted. “It’s kind of our signature.”
The Antlers will attempt to sign-off on a second straight state championship as they take on the Tulsa East Central Tigers at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center.