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Jones girls wear down Idabel in title game rematch, move to 3A semifinals

Bethel out-muscles Alva on the glass, will face 2-time state champions Friday

By Glen Brockenbush 

OKLAHOMA CITY - A title game rematch and a meeting of perennial powers kicked off the 3A girls state tournament at Jim Norick Arena on Thursday. 

As it turned out, neither game was particularly close, with one team essentially dominating the contest in both cases.

In the first game, No. 2 Bethel took care of Alva, 42-28. 

The second game featured a rematch of the 2022 state championship game. And just like a year ago, Jones proved to be too much for Idabel, as the two-time defending state champions ran away with a 65-50 win against the Lady Warriors.

Bethel and Jones will face off in the state semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

Jones 65, Idabel 50

The defense for the Lady Longhorns, especially from their guards, gave Idabel fits in the first quarter. Up until their final possession of the quarter, the Lady Warriors had just 11 points.

But Idabel went on a 9-2 run to get back in the game, thanks in large part to Mercades Lopez and Deamaya Hunt.

Jones’ Jaelen Maples made a 3-pointer and then a close-range shot for a quick five points. Then a bucket by Boston Berry capped a 7-0 run for the Lady Longhorns, who led at halftime, 33-27, after a series of runs from both teams.

“Just the will to keep going (impressed me), to keep fighting continuously,” Jones head coach Jenni Holbrook said. “When something’s not working, being willing to adjust and change during the game, and not just be set on one thing (helps us out).”

Maples was perfect from both the field and the free-throw line in the first half and led the Lady Longhorns with 11 points through the first two quarters. Still, Maples even said, “Defense has won our championships."

And the defense continued to stifle Idabel, and the stats showed it. The Lady Warriors shot about 44 percent from the field, and turned the ball over 20 times.

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Idabel was led by Lopez, who finished with 22 points, while Mary Carden had 11 points and 10 boards.

Hunt had eight points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.

Three Jones players - Berry, Maples and Kasia Hansen - ended the game with 16 or more points. The Lady Longhorns also had 17 assists to Idabel’s six.

The camaraderie between the Lady Longhorn team was created over more than just the past couple of years.

“We’ve all played together for so long, I think we’ve built a lot of trust,” Maples said. “It’s a blessing that we have more than one amazing player on our team, we don’t have depend on just one person.

"If one of us has a bad game, we have four others that could go at (the other team’s) guards.”

On the same night that Maples scored 20 points, Berry recorded her 1,000th career point in the first quarter. She also led the team in assists.

Holbrook remarked the unselfishness on her team has proven to be contagious.

“This team is special, they do not care (who scores). They hate losing more than they love winning,” Holbrook said. “They don’t care how it happens, and I think that’s what’s hard about playing our team.”

Bethel 42, Alva 28

Bethel’s plan from the start was to put pressure on the Alva guards. And in the first half, it appeared to work. Full-court defense, plus traps in the half-court, resulted in mistakes by the Ladybugs.

Still, they trailed Bethel by just a point after the first quarter and actually took a 16-15 lead in the second quarter.

But Josie and Lilly Megehee helped the Lady Wildcats take the lead back and go to halftime up, 23-17.

The physicality of players like the Megehees and Parker Stevenson helped Bethel establish dominance in the paint, as the Lady Wildcats out-rebounded the Ladybugs 16-9 in the first half, led by Stevenson’s seven boards.

The game was still relatively close through most of the third quarter. But Alva’s inability to hit shots and rebound said missed shots kept biting them. The Ladybugs tried to penetrate, but couldn’t, and when they shot 3’s, they rarely fell.

Meanwhile, Bethel didn’t shoot much better than their counterparts in the second half, but kept gathering the rebounds that Alva couldn’t.

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A 3-pointer by Lilly Megehee in the final minute of the third quarter extended the lead to 34-27. On the Lady Wildcats’ next time down the court, a missed 3-point attempt by Bella Thomas was rebounded by Kylie Adair, who put the back in to give Bethel a 36-27 lead at the end of the third.

That was part of an 11-1 run that extended through the entire fourth quarter, as the Ladybugs were held scoreless from the field in the final frame, making just a single free throw.

For the night, Alva shot 32.4 percent from the field, and just 23.5 percent in the second half.

Lakin Gaddy paced the Ladybugs with 11 points, while Jaycee Kelln had six.

Bethel shot the ball at nearly the same clip as Alva, making just 32.7 percent of its shots. But the Lady Wildcats out-rebounded Alva, 35-20, and had 18 second-chance points to Alva’s four.

Josie Megehee had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Stevenson finished with nine points and 14 boards.