TULSA - Kansas knew what they were in for when it came to taking on 6A's fourth-rated Booker T. Washington in Wednesday's opening round of the 47th annual Tournament of Champions at the Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University. But when the Lady Comets finally figured out that grabbing a rebound didn't necessarily mean they had grabbed possession, they were able to get back into the thick of things. Despite committing a season-high 22 turnovers, the Kansas girls got some outstanding help off of the bench and used a fourth quarter rally to squeak past the Hornets 42-40.
In the opening quarter, the Lady Comet offense shot 5-of-13 from the floor with Kelsey Barnwell scoring 4 of her team-high 10. Kansas seemed to be in danger of falling significantly behind until freshman Madison Davis dropped in a trey from the top of the key.
Kaylan Mayberry and Mariah Gilliam, with 5 and 4 points, respectively, combined for the bulk of their team's 12-point opening quarter that gave the Lady Hornets (4-3) a one-point lead.
The Lady Comets (7-0) struggled from the floor as well as with Washington's full court press during the second quarter. Six Lady Hornets teamed up for their team's most productive offensive segment of the game, with 14 points.
While the Lady Comets owned the boards, they found themselves turning the ball over seven times trying to get it back to their end of the court. Shooting 2-of-9 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line, Kansas went to the intermission trailing 26-21. Remarkably, shooting ace Courtney Cowan was held to just a pair of those free throws for only 2 points at the half.
Following the break, it looked as if the Lady Comets were going to break off one of their patented runs. Knocking down three of their opening four field goal attempts, Kansas got within a basket of the Hornets, but another spate of turnovers allowed Booker T. to hang on to their perilously small lead.
DeVaughn Gray scored half of Washington's eight third stanza points, while Cowan and Barnwell added a bucket each for Kansas. After trailing by as much as seven in the third, it was Heather Marshall's old fashioned three-point play and another Davis trey that had the Lady Comets down 34-33 with a quarter left to play.
The fourth quarter would be a back and forth affair that saw Kansas's latest addition, Sierra Honeycutt, chip in a pair of baskets, a free throw and a pair of boards, to pace her team's march to a 40-40 tie with a minute and a half to play. Kansas regained the lead on a bucket by Ty Sizer with 21 seconds left and had to overcome two more of their eight fourth quarter turnovers.
The Lady Comets were able to haul in a rebound off of the Hornets potential game-tying shot and called a timeout with 8 seconds to go and a two-point lead. After a successful inbound pass by Kansas, Booker T. was able to wrest the ball away, and as time ran out the Washington bench called a timeout. After the referee's huddled it was decided to put 2.2 seconds on the clock and give possession to the Hornets. But their desperation shot from beyond the elbow missed the mark leaving Kansas undefeated.
As of press time Thursday the Lady Comets were set to take on Fort Gibson in a semifinal matchup at 8:30 p.m. The Lady Tigers, the defending state champions in Class 4A, defeated Copan 51-39 in Wednesday's final first round matchup, and have won 36 games in a row.
Look for the latest results on our website at www.grandlakenews.com and in the Tuesday edition of The Grove Sun.