The Edmond Sun
In a razor-tight contest in a state championship game, it’s the little things that matter.
Deer Creek and Tulsa East Central needed an extra period to decide this year’s Class 5A girls state champion and 5-10 Lady Antler post Abbey Renner had a lot to do with that.
With only 45 seconds remaining in overtime and the Lady Cardinals desperately fighting to get even with Deer Creek, Renner, very undersized against 6-3 Sharayla Brown, boxed out perfectly and got Brown to plunge through her with the Antlers in the double bonus. Renner made both free shots for a 30-25 advantage as Deer Creek went on to win its second consecutive state title by a 31-28 count Saturday afternoon inside the Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
“It doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s how big you play,” Deer Creek head coach Totsy Manning stated in postgame interviews. “And, she (Renner) played extremely big.”
Renner also chipped at 6-4 Mallory Vaughn in an area championship win over Collinsville a week earlier.
Backing up Renner inside was Dakota Vann, who was all over the court and accumulated 17 rebounds and hit more than half of the Antlers’ points with 17. She achieved a double-double in all three games of the state tournament.
“She (Vann) was solid and gave a tremendous effort on the court,” Manning lauded. “She was amazing in there getting so many boards.
“We always struggle on offense and we rely on our defense. It was our defense that wins championships and it was a total team effort.”
Struggle offensively they did. Not many times will a state championship be won when you are outshot from the field, the free-throw line and commit 21 turnovers to 13. The Lady Antlers shot 9-for-40 from the floor (23 percent) and 10-for-17 from the line (59 percent). Tulsa East Central hit 12-of-49 shots (25 percent) but made only three free shots (3-for-5, 60 percent) attributed mainly to the stout Deer Creek defense.
“We know what our team defense needs to be,” Manning pointed out. “We watched them (Tulsa East Central) destroy teams and they said you can’t man East Central. But, we manned them all game.”
In overtime with the Antlers up 30-25, Cardinal Janee Arnold squirelly chunked up a long 3-pointer with 37 seconds left that hit the top of the square and banked in to keep East Central alive trailing just 30-28. Arnold shot just 6-for-22 from the field and hit the lone 3-point shot of the game for the Lady Cardinals.
Deer Creek then threw the ball away against the rugged press and Tulsa East Central got off two shots. On the second, a scrum took place on the floor for the ball and the arrow pointed in favor of the Lady Antlers with 28 seconds to go.
The Antlers held the ball and Vann was fouled with 8.6 seconds left and she made 1-of-2 free throws for the 31-28 final.
Arnold needed a 3 to tie, but she erroneously drove in for a layup that did not count because the horn sounded while she was still dribbling.
“We are playing a lot better this time of year,” Manning noted. “We corrected a lot of our mistakes. We started a 12-game winnning streak in January and when I look at old film, I say, ‘that’s not even the team we are now.’”
Deer Creek had an opportunity to win the game in regulation after Shae Scheffler picked up a huge rebound with 7.5 seconds left. After a time-out, the Antlers lost the ball off the dribble again, but Bayli Blanchard came up with the loose ball and missed an uncovered trey at the buzzer.
The Lady Antlers led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter when Vann got her second 3-pointer of the period to climb over the rim with 12 seconds left. Vann shot 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Deer Creek led 14-13 at intermission and Tulsa East Central grabbed the lead after three periods at 21-19.
Blanchard snatched six rebounds and scored six points followed by teammates Renner and Whitney Jones with four boards and four points each and Emily Gillis and Scheffler with two points apiece. Jones also had three steals in the game.
The Antlers finish off the year at 25-5.