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By Buck Ringgold

Winning last month's Tournament of Champions title in Tulsa gave Bixby's girls a shot in the arm.

The Lady Spartans have carried over that momentum and have continued a stretch of good play. Bixby has now won eight of its past nine ballgames, capped by a pair of decisive wins on the road.

On Jan. 14, Bixby won by 30 points, 55-25, at archrival Jenks. Then on Tuesday, the Lady Spartans traveled to Bartlesville and came away 65-39 winners.

"We have all of our players healthy, which is always a big deal, and everybody's just kind of embracing their roles and we're getting a little more chemistry about us and smoother with our system now," Bixby coach Tina Thomas said. "We still have some things to work on, but those are some areas of improvement that I've seen."

In the Jenks win, four Lady Spartans - all juniors - reached double figures. Alyssa Nielsen was the top scorer with 15 points, followed by 14 from Gentry Baldwin. Meredith Mayes and Gracy Wernli added 10 each as well.

They nearly turned the trick again against Bartlesville, as Wernli had 20 points, followed by 17 from Baldwin and 10 from Mayes. Nielsen finished with eight points.

"The girls played really well in both of those games," Thomas said. "We went to Jenks and our defense was just locked down again; we played really good defense.

"Also, when I have at least four players in double figures, that always makes me happy. You're really hard to prepare for and have a specialized game plan against as long as we can have pretty even distribution of our scoring capacity."

Entering the Tournament of Champions, Bixby was 3-2. The Lady Spartans are 8-1 since, with their lone loss coming to a highly ranked 4A squad, Classen SAS, in the Putnam City Invitational two weeks ago.

"They're progressing," Thomas said. "Our role players and our bench are gaining strength and my starters are healthy and strong and just working hard every day.

"These kids have worked really hard, and I'm pretty sure nobody outworks them, so that makes me really proud."

Bixby (11-3) is now off until this Tuesday, when the Lady Spartans return home to take on Sand Springs, which started out 10-0 prior to playing in this weekend's Jenks/Union Invitational.

Midwest City

A season ago, the Lady Bombers reached the 6A state tournament for the first time since 2016.

Midwest City dropped down to 5A this season, and though the team returned just two starters from last year's state tournament squad, the Lady Bombers have been finding ways to win.

The Lady Bombers have now won three straight and five of their last six games following Thursday's 53-47 overtime win against 6A Top 10 ranked Broken Arrow in the first round of the John Nobles Tournament in Moore.

Midwest City (9-3) also posted a 42-32 win at home Tuesday against Del City in a matchup of two highly ranked 5A squads.

"Del City is a tough opponent playing very well at the moment," Lady Bomber coach Megan Maloy said. "I believe they will go far in the playoffs this year.

"We had two weeks off due to COVID, so our girls bounced back a little rusty but stayed tough through a physical game and pulled out the double-digit win."

The Del City win was the Lady Bombers' first game since a 46-40 win on Jan. 4 against Putnam City North. Midwest City's last loss came in overtime to Edmond Memorial on Dec. 18.

"We have a very talented group of young ladies, with many stepping into roles they are not used to," Lady Bomber coach Megan Maloy said. 

The team also has three seniors in Taniya Looney, Bryanna Williams and Taliyah Anderson.

Looney is a returning starter and was the conference's offensive player of the year a season ago. But Williams and Anderson are coming off ACL injuries last season, and Anderson tore her ACL again in the team's game last month against crosstown rival Carl Albert.

So Maloy has been relying on her underclassmen to help pick up the slack. So far, they have responded.

The team's other returning starter, Myracle Washington, is a junior. Two other juniors, Mya Brown and LaTasha Mitchell, are coming back from injuries while Maloy has liked the play of another junior, Jya Barksdale.

Maloy added sophomore post De'Yanna Douglas has been a "force in the paint and making huge plays for us," with another sophomore, Saniyah Gaddis, also coming through.

Following this weekend's tournament, Midwest City goes to Putnam City West on Tuesday and then will be at home Jan. 28 to take on Enid.

McAlester

The new year has definitely been kind to the Lady Buffaloes.

They have been undefeated since the holidays, which included winning the Noble Tournament, with McAlester winning all three games in double figures.

Then on Jan. 11, the Lady Buffs took care of business against Bishop Kelley in a matchup of two highly ranked 5A squads, 60-46. Thursday, McAlester opened up the Shawnee Tournament with a resounding 58-31 win against Shawnee.

That improved McAlester to 12-1, with the only loss coming to Tahlequah in the title game of the Tahlequah Tournament on Dec. 11.

"We are led by our guard trio of Stevie Stinchcomb, Jayda Holiman and Elizabeth Milligan," McAlester coach Jarrod Owen said. "We went into the Noble Tournament as the number one seed and played well enough to earn a spot in the championship game."

In Thursday's win, Milligan led the way with 23 points. Holiman added 12 points and Stinchcomb had 11. Those three players also had six rebounds apiece and combined to make 12 steals.

The three also combined to score 49 points in the win against Bishop Kelley, while Stinchcomb and Holiman had 22 and 14 points, respectively, in the win against 5A ranked opponent Duncan to win the Noble tourney.

McAlester will move on to the Shawnee Tournament semifinals Friday and take on Mustang (11-3), which has lost twice to 6A top-ranked Edmond North and has beaten ranked teams like Westmoore, Stillwater and defending 3A champion Jones.