Guy Ellis

The Jay Lady Bulldogs completed their 2007-08 basketball season with a hard-fought loss to Claremore-Sequoyah, 48-43, in the semi-finals of the 4A Area Tournament in Stillwater Friday afternoon. The Lady Bulldogs came up just short in their efforts to extend their post-season win streak to five and advance to the Area finals.

Despite the disappointing loss the Jay squad has much to be proud about concerning its ’07-’08 campaign. When the Lady Bulldogs stepped onto the court Friday afternoon they were one of only 16 teams in Class 4A who were still alive in the chase for the State championship. Besides their four game win streak in the playoffs, a run that brought them a 4A Regional Consolation Championship, the Lady Bulldogs were able to sweep Highway 59 rival Grove this year as well as put up a strong show in the Tri-State Classic tournament. The Lady Bulldogs landed two players, junior Sam Robertson and senior Colby Morrow, on the All-Tournament team of the Tri-State. In his first season at the helm head Coach Terry Sweeney and his players have built a solid foundation for continued future success.

Friday’s loss to Sequoyah book-ended the Lady Bulldog post-season play which began with a loss to the same Lady Eagles squad in the district round at Claremore in February.

In Friday’s game the Lady Bulldogs controlled the early pace with scores from Robertson, Morrow, and sophomore Hannah Ritter. But at the mid-point of the first quarter the Lady Eagles went on a 7-2 run and closed the quarter out with a five-point burst to hold a 17-10 lead as play began in the second.

The Lady Eagles continued their hot streak in the early part of the second frame. With just under five minutes left in the half Sequoyah was up 25-13 and the Lady Bulldogs called a time-out. After some re-tooling Jay finished the second with a 6-2 run; two points each from Morrow, Robertson, and freshman Lauren Wilson, that brought them to within eight, 27-19, at the break.

After going scoreless in the first half Lady Bulldog senior Taylor Raney came alive in the third quarter. The Jay senior put up 11 of the Bulldogs’ 13 third quarter points. With less than ninety seconds left in the quarter Raney made a steal at mid-court and drove in for a lay-up that capped a six-point spell and cut the Sequoyah lead to four, 36-32.

The Lady Bulldogs opened play in the fourth with a bucket each from Robertson and Raney. Sequoyah tried to slow the game down with keep away. With 1:09 left in the game Raney was fouled but scored a basket and a subsequent free throw to bring Jay to within one, 42-41. The Lady Eagles scored two from the charity stripe on their next possession but Raney responded with a basket to keep Jay one point down, 44-43, with forty seven seconds left in the game. Sequoyah returned to the foul line on their next possession, sinking two to extend their lead to three with thirty six seconds left in the game. The Lady Bulldogs had worked hard to put themselves into a position to win the game but on their next possession things just didn’t work out and a tough call returned the ball to the Lady Eagles who went on to score a free throw point with 19 seconds on the clock to go up by four and all but seal the win.

In her final appearance in Lady Bulldog basketball black and gold Raney led the team in points with 18. Fellow senior Morrow scored eight. Senior starter Kelsie Crouch scored one point and provided sure and steady ball handling prowess all afternoon.

Spare a thought for senior Karen Cronk who suffered an injury earlier in the season that cut short her senior year.

Robertson ended the game with 10 points, while Ritter scored four and Wilson placed two.

For the seniors Friday’s game signaled the close of their basketball playing time with the Jay program but the memories and friendships that were developed over the seasons will last forever. The post-season run that the Lady Bulldog seniors helped to engineer will have made a strong legacy for the underclassmen who will return to the program next season.