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Owasso boys finally break through with dramatic rally for 6A state title

Behind Jalen Montonati's 34-point performance, Rams outlast Edmond North in OT for first title

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA - Jalen Montonati was in his element. 

Facing the two-time defending champion, a rabid student section and a state title on the line, the Owasso sophomore not only didn’t break, but he thrived.

Led by Montonati’s 34 points, the Rams defeated Edmond North, 57-53, in overtime to take possession of the 6A state championship and the coveted gold ball at Lloyd Noble Center. It was a moment the 6-foot-7 forward knew was coming before the season began and one he knew they would be ready to face.

“We're built for this moment. I told my guys in the pre-game speech we're built for this moment since October 1st," Montonati said. “We knew who we were going to play on March 9th at the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m., and we were working for them the entire year.”

Owasso defeats Edmond North: Live score, Oklahoma (OSSAA) high school boys basketball state championship recap (3/9/2024)

The title is the first in the program’s history. It’s a championship many thought the Rams would win in 2023 before being bounced by rival Broken Arrow in the semifinals.

But it was a loss to Edmond North in the Tournament of Champions in Tulsa this past December that let senior Cody Lechlider know they were ready to take the next step.

“This is my senior year, man. This is all we wanted, to win this state tournament and man, it was a little bit of a revenge game from the Tournament of Champions in Tulsa,” Lechlider said. “We knew we could beat them and we knew we had what it takes and we had to just go do it.”

However, the Rams knew dethroning the Huskies was not going to be easy. When North held a 12-point lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter, Huskies fans may have been preparing for the coronation.

But in the fourth quarter, each time it looked like the Huskies were about to run away from the Rams, Montonati would make a play to keep Owasso within striking distance. Even as the Edmond North fans screamed 'Daddy’s boy (Montonati's father is Owasso coach Brian Montonati),’ Jalen Montonati found a way to score and brought the Rams back.

“The one thing I said is I think Jalen solidified himself as Gatorade Player of the Year in the state,” Brian Montonati said about his son. “You West Side people, you got to get in touch with him. Man, they hated on him. They didn't think he was good and everything else.

"I mean, I think he put on the show.”

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

However, late in the game, North led 46-45 and tried to run the clock down. But they threw the ball away with 1:46 left. Jalen Montonati made them pay by draining a mid-range jumper with a hand in his face to put Owasso in front by one.

Edmond North went to Dylan Warlick, but he appeared to trip driving into the paint and turned the ball over with just 51 seconds on the clock.

The Rams made a pair of free throws to give them a three-point cushion and 30 seconds left. North showed they weren’t done yet when Chiante Tramble drained a game-tying 3-pointer to send the contest into overtime.

“We do hard things,” Coach Montonati said. “We embrace doing hard things. It kind of took a little bit of the wind out of us. We had a missed coverage on the out-of-bounds play and Tramble's a winner, man. He's a competitor.

"So I wasn't shocked that the ball went in, but it gets back to our kids, man, their character and their toughness. We didn't really have to build them up. We believed that we were the better team and we just had to do it the hard way in overtime.”

In overtime, the Huskies had opportunities to score and steal the game. But unlike the previous two seasons, those shots either came up short or they turned the ball over.

Conversely, it was the Rams that made the big defensive stop when it counted to secure the four-point victory. They were the tougher team when it counted the most.

“We said we were the toughest team in the state,” Lechlider said. “We knew that and we lived by that and that's how we worked and that's how we played every game and that's why we got what we got.”

Along with his game-high 34 points, Montonati shot 6-of-15 from 3-point range and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe. Lechlider added 14 points while Boden Williams chipped in with 7 points.

Tramble finished with 26 points, three assists and four rebounds. Tatum Ridge added 10 points. Warlick - the Wyoming signee - was held to 7 points and five boards in the final game of his prep career.

“(Edmond North's) Coach (Scott) Norris does a great job with his group of guys and there, it's one of the best teams I've ever played against,” Jalen Montonati said of Edmond North. “And they got a lot of competitors, and they play extremely hard and I have the utmost respect for them and their coaching staff, but it's just the group of guys that we have.

"We don't bend, we don't break. We stay the course, stay together and we have the utmost trust in each other to make plays.”

-- Michael Kinney | @SBLiveOK