Special to The Sun
The Deer Creek Lady Antlers roared out to a 22-12 halftime lead in the first round of the state Class 5A basketball playoffs Thursday afternoon at Catoosa High School and then held on for a 42-40 win and the right to advance to the state tournament's semifinal round on Friday.
The victory for the second-ranked Lady Antlers came over the Collinsville Lady Cardinals, ranked ninth in Class 5A, who finish the season at 20 wins and 8 losses. Totsy Manning's charges got balanced scoring from a trio of players with Ashley Gibson leading the way with 13 points. Twelve came from the hand of Dakota Vann and 10 more from Bayli Blanchard but it was Whitney Jones who came through in the clutch with a victory-sealing basket with less than 15 seconds remaining in the contest.
The first period had ended with Deer Creek up 16-6 and looking to make a shambles of the upstart Cardinals' hopes for their first trip back to the state semifinals in 28 years. The second and third periods were basically dead even before Collinsville made its fourth-quarter run against the Edmond crew.
The Lady Cards, under the watchful eye of head coach Kelly Clarke, in his first year back in his hometown after leaving Yukon last year, poured in 16 points in the fourth period to tie Edmond at 40-all with 51 seconds remaining in the contest. That's when Jones took over and dropped in two of her five points on the evening to seal the victory and a second-round matchup with another group of Lady Cardinals, those from Tulsa's East Central High School. Abbey Renner had the other two points for the Lady Antlers with those coming in the third period.
The two teams match up at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning at Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center. A victory Friday morning for the Lady Antlers would put them in the finals Saturday evening at 6 p.m. again at the Mabee Center.