January 10, 2014

MacArthur makes tourney final with win over Chickasha

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — A spot in the final and a bit of reclaimed pride were on the line in Chickasha girls’ game against Lawton-MacArthur, but that ended with a turning point third quarter.

The Lady Chicks fell 36-29, sending them to the third place final of the Chickasha Classic and Lawton-Mac to the final against Yukon. The Lady Highlanders were on the winning end of a tight 36-35 game about this time last year, and head coach Christy Edelen identified this as a game her team would relish winning.

“We just didn’t execute in the second half,” Edelen said. “We let their shooters get loose and away from us, and dug ourselves a hole we weren’t able to get out of.”

It was clear as crystal that senior Alex Stewart wanted the win, as well. She led Chickasha with 12 points, while sophomore Dominique Golightly added eight.

“Coming in, we really wanted to win,” Stewart said. “There’s nothing to do about it now but try harder next time.”

A quiet first half for both teams saw Lawton-Mac leading the majority of the time, though they didn’t go into halftime with the advantage. Sydnee Stolz helped them to a 9-6 lead after the first quarter with a three pointer and a jump shot. Two fouls later she had to sit, only for point guard Paj Jackson to pick up the pace. Both finished the first half with a joint-team leading five points.

Stewart was the hot hand for Chickasha, with a three and two jumpers to help her to nine first half points. Foul trouble also kept her from adding to that total, as she had to sit as a precaution for the last minute and a half of the first half.

Even with the 6’ 7” frame of Taylor Sylvester in the game more after recovering from a knock to her knee, the Lady Chicks struggled to stop Lawton-Mac from crashing the boards and getting second chance shots. Still, Chickasha took a 17-16 lead into the locker rooms.

The third quarter belonged to Lawton-Mac, although just under half of it was a back and forth affair. Kiaji Sawyer went off with two threes late that sparked an 8-0 run for the Lady Highlanders to end the quarter. She finished with nine points. The Lady Chicks went cold with just seven points to answer. It resulted in an eight point lead for MacArthur going into the fourth.

Immediately, Chickasha was out to end the three-point machine that was Sawyer. Dominique Golightly was charged with keeping her under wraps, and it seemed to work. That left Jackson, who ended up with a team leading 10 points, isolated at times, enough for a quick drive to the basket straight between Sylvester and Meredith Nolan. That put the Lady Highlanders up by seven and forced the Lady Chicks to resort to a full-court press.

It only illustrated further that Chickasha was truly chasing the game. Lawton-Mac spread out on offense and held onto the ball for a good two minutes to wind the clock down.

“We caused turnovers and had the chances to go score; we just didn’t connect,” Edelen said. “What we did actually worked, we just didn’t reward ourselves with points on the other end.”

It left Chickasha with only a minute to make up for lost time. A late jumper from Sylvester served only as a consolation.

Saturday's tournament schedule:

Duncan vs. Douglass (Girls, 7th place game) 10 a.m.

US Grant vs. Duncan (Boys, 7th place game) 11:30 a.m.

Edmond North vs. Moore (Girls consolation final) 1 p.m.

Chickasha vs. Mt. St. Mary (Boys consolation final) 2:30 p.m.

Cace vs. Chickasha (Girls 3rd place game) 4 p.m.

Cache vs. Altus (Boys 3rd place game) 5:30 p.m.

Lawton-MacArthur vs. Yukon (Girls final) 7 p.m.

Moore vs. Lawton High (Boys final) 8:30 p.m.