PIEDMONT, Okla. — Like a roaring fire, the Chickasha girls continue to burn.
A 42-32 victory over Western Heights was their fourth in a row, but perhaps the most crucial as it came in the first round of regional playoffs in Piedmont on Thursday and prevented elimination at the first hurdle.
Sophomore Areanna Combs led the floor with 19 points. She was tough to guard, but ended up being the only real threat. Chickasha offered two in double-digits, led by senior Alex Stewart with 18 points.
The Lady Chicks went off to a fast start, much of that down to a quick five points from Stewart. Sylvester was also active with four points early, the size advantage working in Chickasha’s favor.
Life got a little harder when Western Heights turned up the defensive intensity. Areanna Combs took off on a steal for a quick bucket before Karen Hopkins hit a three to take the deficit to just one, down from six as the second quarter started.
That three served to spring Chickasha into action. Stewart responded with a three of her own, and that sparked a 12-2 run. The Lady Chicks were pulling out everything. Sylvester hit from midrange before Jacklyn Ramos took them further. She lined up for a long jumper from the right corner, sinking it easily.
In the face of stiff opposition, Chickasha responded in kind defensively. A swarm in the corner sent Jaycie Brown streaming down the right before sending it cross court to Ramos. She jump stopped, fake all of the Jets defenders out, and stepped a few feet forward for another sweet jumper. By halftime, Chickasha led by 10 and had all the momentum.
They kept that going into the second half. Stewart drove in for a close-range jumper to extend their lead out of the break after Sylvester sank another. In fact the only one who didn’t seem to be getting in on the scoring was Dominique Golightly, who was constantly hounded, even more so on the block. All four of her points came from the free-throw line, but there were plenty of other ways she contributed.
“You have nights like that, but she did a lot on the defensive side that helped us, a lot of rebounding, got the ball to a lot of team mates,” assistant coach Chad Beery said. “She had a lot of assists tonight. So, she found other ways to help us out.”
Golightly was part of a swift offensive move by Chickasha, when Ramos ended up with the ball in the left corner after it had been quickly switched from the opposite flank. She found Sylvester in the commotion for her fifth bucket of the night.
The Jets had enough to make the ending a little dramatic. Charon Cheatham sank her only bucket of the night, a three pointer, in between a Hopkins jumper and a laser shot from the elbow by Combs. She caused problems all second half with some patient maneuvering in the post. The 7-0 spurt was enough to raise some tension, but time was running out.
The Lady Chicks spread the floor with about three and a half minutes left and never looked back. Stewart stole a late bucket as the Jets scrambled, and tried to steal another but was fouled hard as the clock expired. No free shots were necessary, the job had been done.