Skip to main content

By Buck Ringgold

TULSA — Okarche's girls find themselves in the same situation they were in at this time last season.

This time, the Lady Warriors want to take things one step further and return to the Class A state tournament.

Okarche is now one win away from reaching state after using a big first-half run to eventually defeat Stuart, 76-55, Monday night in the Class A Area II regional championship at Regent Prep.

With the win, Okarche (24-2) - ranked No. 2 in the final Class A poll - will advance to the Class A Area II championship game, set for 6:30 p.m. Friday in Kellyville. Okarche will take on Vanoss, which beat Depew in its regional title game Monday.

The Lady Warriors were in that position last season, making it to the area title game and getting two chances to reach state. But they dropped both games at area, abruptly ending their season.

"We'll definitely take the win; they're excited to go into area as the winners, so we'll definitely take the win," Okarche coach Haley Mitchel said. "I definitely think there are some things we can improve on; our defense should have gotten a little bit better, but I think we scored well and we pushed the ball well (Monday)."

And Mitchel is glad for her team to get another chance to make it to next week's Class A state tournament.

"Coming into the area as the (regional) winner and having two chances at state, that's kind of been our goal all along," she said. "We want to be the (regional) winner and we want to give ourselves both chances there (at area), so I'm very excited for that and very happy for our girls and their effort and what they've done there.

"I think they've been very focused, in practice and in games, and they're on a mission to get themselves back to state."

Late in the first quarter, the Lady Warriors were holding on to a 12-10 lead before breaking things wide open, beginning when senior forward Adyson Arms converted a three-point play.

Stuart then made a free throw before going nearly seven minutes without scoring another point.

Okarche put together a 10-0 run, with junior forward Jalie Rother proving to be the catalyst.

Rother got things started by hitting a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Warriors an 18-11 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Then Rother ended the 10-0 spurt with consecutive baskets, the latter another 3 to push the advantage to 14 points, 25-11.

"I think that we work really well as a team and whenever one of us makes like a big shot or makes any shot at all, we feed off of each other really, really well," Rother said. "And so I felt like our effort and stuff, that's what really won the game and going forward, I just think that we've got to take it one step at a time."

Rother added another 3 inside the closing minute of the opening half, ending a stretch in which Okarche scored 25 of 28 points. That put the Lady Warriors up by 24, 37-13, and they led 37-17 halftime.

Okarche still was up by 20 after three quarters, 57-37, and later led by as many as 27 in the fourth.

But Mitchel afterward remarked there were a few things her team needed to clean up on in order to punch that elusive ticket to state.

"Our first-half performance, I thought we played well; I think we did what we were supposed to, we pushed the ball, causing turnovers on the press, closed down on defense on their 3-point shooters," she said. "I think the second half, that was a big difference. We let their 3-point shooters get hot and let them hit way too many 3's.

"I think we gave up too many rebounds on defense; we still pushed the ball and scored, but just too often we were trading out buckets with them when we should have got a stop on defense."

Junior post Emma Stover was the top scorer for Okarche, scoring 14 of her 22 points after halftime. Jalie Rother added 20 and finished with four 3's, while her sister, sophomore guard Jadyn Rother, added 11 points.

Stuart's Haddie Lindley scored 20 of her team-high 22 points in the second half, and she made four 3's. Braelyn Blasengame added 16 points, 10 after halftime.

The Lady Hornets (18-7) drop into the Area II consolation round, and will take on Foyil at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Kellyville.

Wellston 51, Stuart 50(BOYS)

Kage Danker made some clutch baskets down the stretch for the Tigers in their Class A Area II regional title game.

His biggest shot came with 20 seconds left, as Danker - a junior forward - drove the baseline for the finish to put Wellston in front by one, moments after the Hornets had taken the lead.

Wellston (16-8) then had to survive a harrowing finish, which included the Tigers going 0-for-4 from the foul line in the final 11 seconds. But the Tigers' defense came up huge, forcing a pair of missed shots as well as senior George McKiddie taking a charge.

"Our guys just played physical and tough," Wellston coach Clancy Richards said. "We were able to stay with (Stuart senior guard Connor Clayton); he's a great ballplayer, and to hold him to 10 points, that was just an effort of our overall team defense.

"We had a couple of kids make big shots at the end, we had a kid take a big charge when they started to get all of the momentum, and I think that kind of got our momentum back, and then Danker had a great game. ... I wish we had made the free throws, but a win's a win."


Wellston is now one win away from the Class A state tournament. The Tigers move on to the Class A Area II championship, set for 8 p.m. Friday in Kellyville, where they take on Vanoss.

In Monday's win by the Tigers, Danker scored nine of his team's 10 points in the fourth quarter.

His first big shot down the stretch was a 3-pointer which broke a 44-all score. Then, after the Hornets scored back-to-back field goals for a 48-47 lead, Danker made a driving shot to the goal as the Tigers went back in front, 49-48, with more than a minute left.

Stuart regained the advantage with 33 seconds left, 50-49, as Kobe Wilson found teammate Noah Rosenow down low. But on the next series, Danker came though once more with the eventual game-winner.

"He's played real well for us all year," Richards said. "He's made big shots for us down the stretch. Strong, good kid, good athlete, and he wasn't afraid, and that was the biggest thing. I told him, we've got to keep believing and stay strong and not be afraid of the moment."

Danker was more than ready to accept that challenge.

"It was a really close game and I knew I had to do something because it was back and forth, back and forth," Danker said. "It was just being confident.

"I'm pretty excited about this; we've never went this far before."

Wellston opened the season with six straight wins and also started out 10-1. But the Tigers then endured a rough patch, dropping their next six of eight, punctuated by a 72-37 loss to rival Luther on Jan. 28.

It was after that game that prompted a players-only meeting. Since then, Wellston has won four of five, including all three in the postseason.

"They met for about 30 minutes, and I told them it's all them," Richards said. "They got that enthusiasm back, they've been working really hard down the stretch and we've been playing really well."

Danker agreed with his coach's assessment of putting it all together at the necessary juncture.

"Especially in the playoffs, we've been playing a lot better than what we had been in the regular season," Danker said. "We lost to our rival (Luther) pretty good and then we had a talk in the locker room and picked some stuff, so I think we're doing good now.

"I think everybody came out ready to play (Monday). We all sat in the locker room and had a talk together, and I think everybody was ready to play at the beginning of the game; that's what really set the tone."

Wellston outscored Stuart (21-3) after one quarter, 16-9, and went up eight at halftime, 31-23. But the Hornets made their charge in the third quarter, eventually tying the score at 38-all before the Tigers went back in front, 41-38, going into the fourth.

Then both teams dueled for the lead in the closing minutes before Danker made the last of his big-time shots. 

Along with Danker, senior guard Hayden Campbell was in double figures with 11 points, making three 3's as well.

Wilson had 13 points and four 3's to lead Stuart, while Drevon Colbert added 11, hitting three treys.

Stuart drops into the Class A Area II consolation round, with the Hornets scheduled to resume play at 3 p.m. Thursday against Riverfield.

Regent Prep 31, Okarche 27(BOYS)

Senior Nate Beitel wasn't ready for his career as a Rams' player to end.

He took matters into his own hands, scoring 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. That included all 12 of Regent Prep's points in the fourth quarter, as the Rams rallied from a 15-13 halftime deficit to win Monday's regional consolation championship game.

With the win, Regent Prep moves into the consolation round of the Class A Area II tournament at Kellyville, where the Rams will face Okay at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Brayden Stover had 14 points and a pair of 3's for Okarche.

Ripley 54, Summit Christian 47 (GIRLS)

Three players reached double figures in Ripley's win in Monday's regional consolation championship game.

Ripley, which trailed 37-35 after three quarters before outscoring Summit Christian 19-10 in the fourth, was led by Brooklyn Gobble's 14 points. Brooklyn Howell and Kelsie McCollom each added 13 points.

With the win, Ripley moves into the Class A Area II consolation round at Kellyville, and will take on Depew at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Katie Stemple had 14 points and Valeria Hill 12 points with two 3's for Summit.