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Putnam City West girls make most of last possession, deny Edmond North 'three-peat'

Da'Nae Jefferson's three-point play completes late rally, lifts Lady Patriots to 41-40 win

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA - Nearly a year ago to the day, on the same Lloyd Noble Center court, Putnam City West had a chance. 

An underdog Lady Patriot squad went toe-to-toe with an Edmond North team that was seeking its second straight Class 6A championship. PC West trailed by three points in the closing seconds in the 6A semifinals and had the ball, but was unable to convert. The Lady Huskies went on to repeat as state champs.

With a similar situation unfolding in Saturday’s 6A championship game at the Lloyd Noble Center, the Lady Patriots got another late opportunity - and this time got it.

Sophomore Da’Nae Jefferson made a driving layup with 14 seconds left while being fouled. She then hit the subsequent free throw to complete the three-point play, as PC West rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to deny Edmond North its bid to “three-peat” with a 41-40 win.

Putnam City West defeats Edmond North: Live updates, score of Oklahoma (OSSAA) girls basketball Class 6A state championship (3/9/2024)

“We didn’t want to have the same feeling we had last year in that locker room,” PC West coach Ja’Ron Jefferson said. “And I told them the other day, to get to it, you have to go through it.

“I kept telling them that for the last 14 seconds. … It’s not going to be easy, if it was easy, everybody could do it, so we did it and I’m so proud of them.”

The win was the first state title for PC West (27-1) since 1981.

PC West trailed by two, 40-38, inside the final minute but Edmond North had the ball, working the clock and forcing the Lady Patriots to commit a foul. But that turned out not to be necessary, as PC West’s defense forced an errant pass out of bounds on the baseline, giving the Lady Patriots the ball.

Seconds later, after initially contemplating taking a 3-pointer, Da’Nae Jefferson - Ja’Ron Jefferson’s daughter - instead found an opening in the lane and took it. She was able to finish off the shot while drawing a foul.

Jefferson then completed the three-point play with 14.6 seconds left to put PC West up by one.

“I was about to shoot a 3, but I noticed there was an open lane, so I went for the two-pointer,” she said. “I got that, and the and-one and made the free throw.”

Ja’Ron Jefferson jokingly remarked that he was glad his daughter took some advice leading up to that pivotal three-point play.

“I’m so proud of her right now, and she’s finally decided to listen to me as ‘Coach’ and not ‘Dad,’” Ja’Ron Jefferson said. “She took her coach’s advice and separated ‘Coach’ from ‘Dad,’ so I’m so proud of her.”

Oklahoma high school boys/girls basketball: Live score, OSSAA 4A-3A-2A state title game updates recap (3/9/2024)

Then, similar to how Edmond North was able to keep PC West from scoring at the end in last year’s semifinal, the Lady Patriots turned the tables, forcing the Lady Huskies (26-2) to take an off-balance shot with time running out, and the ball missed the target.

PC West player Jazzlin Brown grabbed the rebound as time ran out, igniting a wild celebration on the court.

“We had a mission, me and my teammates, we had one goal at the beginning of the season, and I wanted to finish that with this team, so we persevered and finished things off with a ring,” Da’Nae Jefferson said.

Edmond North used a late run to take a 23-17 lead at halftime and extended it to 10, 30-20, in the third quarter. But PC West - which also beat the Lady Huskies in the regular season in the title game of the Jenks-Union Invitational - kept clawing back.

PC West pulled to within three on a couple of occasions early in the fourth quarter but the Lady Huskies had an answer each time. Then, with North leading 38-33, PC West senior Shamar Bert hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:40 left, getting the Lady Patriots within two.

“I knew we needed to do something to switch the momentum; that’s all I (needed), and I was wide open and I knew I had the green light,” said Bert, who is ironically a coach’s daughter herself, as the daughter of PC West boys coach Lenny Bert. “Coach tells me if I’m open, shoot it, so that’s what I did; I gave it no second thoughts.”

North then worked the ball around, and Kate Melton hit a short jumper along the baseline with less than three minutes left to put the Lady Huskies back up by two possessions.

It remained 40-36 until Da’Nae Jefferson was fouled with more than a minute left. She went to the line and hit both free throws for a two-point North lead, and moments later, PC West got the turnover it needed to eventually set up the game-winning play.

“On the bench, we just kept talking to each other and telling each other, ‘Hey, we still have time, we’re still going to come together,’” Shamar Bert said. “When one person goes down, another person comes up, so as long as we believed in each other, it didn’t matter to me about anything else, what the score said or what anybody else says.”

Jefferson led all scorers with 12 points, and went 6-of-7 from the foul line. Bert added 10 points and two 3’s.

Edmond North got 11 points each from Melton and Grace Jackson. Allison Heathcock, a senior who is headed to Creighton University, added nine points.

PC West has a great chance to come back a year from now and go for a repeat. The Lady Patriots will lose two seniors, Bert and Caya Smith, a University of Oklahoma signee.

“We do have a good chance to repeat; we’re losing Shamar and Caya, and Caya will be playing here, so we have a solid chance to come back and repeat, but it’s going to take work,” Ja’Ron Jefferson said. “There’s nothing given in 6A basketball or any class, so we have to just stay locked in to what we want to do, and if that is our goal, then we have to work towards that goal next season.

“So I’ll give them maybe a week off and then we’re back to it.”

Photos by Michael Kinney

-- Buck Ringgold | | @SBLiveOK