Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The clock ran out on the Chickasha High School girls basketball team's final home game of the 2013 season Friday night, and several Lady Chicks' players were crying when it was all over.
They weren't tears of sadness, however. The players were shedding tears of pure joy after upsetting the No. 1 Shawnee Lady Wolves in the biggest win any of them have had at Chickasha.
No one was more joyful after the 62-52 win than seniors Sierra Hamilton and Hannah Slaton, who have spent four years in the program and pushed through some tough seasons.
"Sierra and Hannah were with us when they won two games their freshman year, and they didn't get to play a freshman game," head coach Christy Edelen said. "They didn't get to play a single JV game. They've stuck with this, and you just can't be more proud of a group of girls to go from winning two games to beating the No. 1 team in 5A on senior night. That's just storybook right there."
Edelen is in her third season as coach of Chickasha High School, and inherited a massive rebuilding job when she joined took the job in May 2010.
She coached at Medford High School and Kingfisher High School previously, and took both teams to multiple state tournaments.
At Kingfisher, in her first year as a head coach, Edelen's team upset No. 1, undefeated Cushing in the class 4A state semifinals. As big as that win was, she said Friday's win over Shawnee may even top that one.
Edelen was quick not to take the credit for the win, instead crediting her players and the other coaches in the Chickasha girls basketball program: freshman coach Miranda Edwards, eighth grade coach Chad Beery and seventh grade coach Nancy Waters, all of whom joined Edelen in her office after the game to celebrate and discuss the accomplishment.
"I don't want to turn this about me in any shape or form, but this is blood, sweat and tears from all these people in this room," Edelen said. "It's just nice to see something pay off and come out of it. We're not done, we're definitely not stopping here."
The Lady Chicks trailed Shawnee after the first quarter and at halftime, but stayed within a few points of the Lady Wolves the entire time.
Chickasha has had some second-half breakdowns against good teams at times this season, but this time, the third quarter was when the Lady Chicks took control, closing the period on a 6-0 run to lead 37-33 going into the fourth.
The Lady Chicks held a seven point lead with 4:30 to play, after which point Shawnee began to press and play more aggressively on defense, sending Chickasha to the free throw line often.
Chickasha hit 17 out of 24 free throws in the fourth quarter. Hamilton went 6-for-6, and Alex Stewart went 5-for-6.
"We had a position where we were actually ahead at the end of a close game and were able to pull it out," Edelen said. "We hit eight free throws in a row, missed a couple, got our composure back and were able to finish it off."
The upset led right into the senior night ceremony between the boys and the girls game, leading to an extended celebration for the entire team and especially the seniors.
"I don't know what else you can say except it's pure joy," Edelen said. "It's just such a gratifying experience when you can watch a group of girls et better and have an opportunity to win against No. 1 on senior night that no one in 5A has beaten this year."
The win sends the Lady Chicks into the playoffs with wins in four out of their last five games, and gave them an 11-11 record.
Chickasha is scheduled to play Guthrie in the first round of regionals at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Tahlequah.
Chickasha and Guthrie have already played twice this season. The Lady Jays beat the Lady Chicks 56-41 on Feb. 1 and 43-38 on Jan. 12.
"I hope it gives us a lot of momentum," Edelen said. "It's definitely not going to hurt us. We're going to go to work and prepare for Guthrie. We know we have to take care of Guthrie first and give ourselves a chance in the playoffs."