Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

Itís not always easy being the favorites, the Kansas Lady Comets just made it look that way.

Ranked number one nearly all season, the Lady Comets beat all comers, finishing the season with a 66-57 win over Oklahoma City Millwood to claim the state championship.

Senior post player Brooke Panther led the way in the final game just as she had all season, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the championship game. Guards Courtney Cowan and Kelsey Barnwell added 21 and 17, respectively.

The title was the third this decade for the Lady Comets under Head Coach Steve Odle, who was named girls basketball coach of the year by the Oklahoma Coaches Association during a ceremony at the All-State Games in July. Steveís brother Phil was named assistant coach of the year.

The Lady Comets entered the season ranked number one in 3A, and they proved worthy of their ranking when they traveled to Tulsa in early December for the Oklahomaís Best Tournament. Competing against some of the best teams in the state, the Lady Comets defeated three large-school teams on their way to the title.

But their next game on January 5 against archrival Adair would end any dreams of an undefeated season. Leading late in the game, the Lady Comets allowed Adair to rally for a tie, sending the game into overtime before the Lady Warriors prevailed 67-64.

Kansas would bounce back at Jayís Tri-State Classic. With Panther, the tournamentís MVP, leading the way the Lady Comets defeated Sequoyah-Tahlequah 59-53 in front of a packed house to claim the tournament title for the third straight season.

Kansas would follow up with a 51-38 win against Adair late in January before traveling to Stigler in February and claiming the Regional title with a 73-57 win over Hugo.

That set up the Lady Comets for a second round with Sequoyah, this time for the Area title and a berth in the state tournament. For the second time, the Lady Comets found themselves trailing at halftime, but behind Pantherís 16 points and 17 rebounds, and with Kortni Kendrick adding 13 and 7, Kansas won 48-41.

After rolling over Tishomingo and Perry in the first two rounds at state, the Lady Comets wrapped up their third title with the win over the Lady Falcons.

The championship was the fourth for Odle, who also won the title at Jay in 1988. Odle also passed 500 career coaching wins, with over 300 of those coming at Kansas.