The Edmond Sun
The Deer Creek Lady Antlers signed up for a trip to the state tournament with a win in the area finals Thursday night against Carl Albert. Deer Creek took a 40-47 win from the Lady Titans at Edmond Memorial High School on the strength of their defense, heads-up passing and outside shots that started going up early and fell late.
The Carl Albert defense had left the Antlers open from outside for much of the game, but Deer Creek mostly failed to capitalize from beyond the arc until moments were left in the third quarter. Down 30-29, DC’s Ashley Gibson took the ball, looked to pass, saw a defender move off, then calmly stepped behind the line and drained a 3-pointer from the corner in front of her own bench to put the Antlers up for good.
Moments later DC point guard Alexa Adair found Dakota Vann under the basket for 2, and seconds after that Adair closed out the period with a 3-pointer of her own to put the Lady Antlers up 37-32 going into the final frame.
“We’re comfortable taking those shots,” Adair said of the 3-pointers, “but our defense won out tonight.”
The Deer Creek defense limited Carl Albert to only two buckets in the fourth quarter, and Whitney Jones grabbed two big rebounds on CA 3-point misses late.
“We talked a lot about momentum swings,” Deer Creek coach Totsy Manning said. “Big games mean big momentum swings. We just told them to keep the swings that weren’t in our favor small.”
The game began with a number of early fouls, including a charging call on Gibson early. Carl Albert went to the line went to the line three times in the first, but converted only 3-of-6 from the charity stripe, a trend that continued throughout the game. The Lady Titans went 12-for-19 from the line, compared to Deer Creek’s 13-for-14.
Gibson hit her first 3 of the contest in the first, and Bayli Blanchard had 4 points in the period, before finding Gibson on a give-and-go along the baseline that put Deer Creek up 12-8 after one.
The Titans’ shooting came alive in the second period, as four CA players scored to close the gap. Adair hit a pair of free throws, Jones scored on an assist from Vann after a Gibson defensive rebound, and the Deer Creek faithful in the Bulldog gym came to their feet after a loose ball call went against the Lady Antlers. Four points from reserve Abbey Renner helped keep DC up 20-19 at the half.
After Deer Creek took control at the end of the third quarter, they pushed the lead to 10 midway through the fourth, before a pair of 3-pointers from Carl Albert’s Gioya Carter closed the gap a bit.
Carter led all scorers with 25 points, 17 of which came in the second half and 15 of which came on 3-pointers.
Gibson led Deer Creek with 14 points, bolstered by 10 from Jones, 7 apiece from Adair and Vann, 5 from Blanchard and 4 from Renner.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Manning said. “They accomplished a lot. They truly pulled together as a team and made sacrifices to make this a great team.”
The win puts Deer Creek into the state tournament, which begins on Thursday at Tulsa’s Mabee Center.
“It feels amazing, quite amazing,” Gibson said of the win.
“We stuck together as a family,” she said of the Lady Antlers’ run. “Now we just need to stay together, be strong and finish.”