David Reeder

It may not have been the scoring fest of which the Lady Comets fans have become accustomed, but in the Area Championship Tournament, at the Muskogee Center, the Kansas girls proved that they could play defense as well. And after falling behind for the second week in a row, the Lady Comets recaptured the lead from Chelsea in the waning moments of the first half, and never relinquished it.

†††††† The Kansas girls fell behind in the gameís opening moments of the first quarter but nothing like the 0-14 deficit that they experienced in the previous week.† With three pointers by Katie Janes and Sarah McSpadden leading the way, the Lady Green Dragons jumped to an early 8-2 lead.†

Kansas struggled from the floor and put in only one of their first five shots.† And while their shots werenít going through the net, they were bounding into Chelseaís waiting hands, who hauled in seven defensive boards and didnít allow the Lady Comets a single offensive rebound.†

But thanks to a pair of Kelsey Barnwell deuces , a Courtney Baker trey and the first of Ceci Thomasonís four blocked shots in the game, the Kansas Ladyís finally pulled to within 1 at the end of the first frame.

†††††† In the ensuing stanza neither team could do much offensively as each missed their first four shots from the floor.† But Kansas was able to sink the first basket of the second, for an 11-11 tie.†

With the score deadlocked the Lady Comet defense went to work on their opponents by forcing them to turn the ball over five times.

With 4:33 to play in the half, Kansas began to make their move.† With another blocked shot by Thomason, to go with four more points each from Baker and Barnwell, the Comets took an 18-17 edge into the dressing room at halftime.

†††††† Apparently the Lady Dragons had not experienced anything like the formidable Lady Comet defense that was thrown at them.† Perhaps, in light of their size, they had not had to concern themselves with it.† But for the remainder of the game, and much to the consternation of their bench and their fans, they appeared befuddled by the nonstop Kansas pressure.†

Five Lady Comets united to score 11 in the third, while the Chelsea offense was unable to get on the scoreboard until the 2:47 point of the period and scored only eight.†

Kansas took a 29-25 lead into the final chapter and early on allowed Chelsea to get within a bucket.† But following that, the proverbial slaying of the Dragons commenced.† On the heels of two Brooke Panther buckets, Chelsea was forced to foul.† And the Lady Comets, who had connected on only one of six first half free throws turned things around by putting in nine of 10 in the second.

Drawing a lot of attention in the middle, Kansas mainstay, Kortni Kendrick took the ball to the hoop early and often.† Burying four of four free throw attempts to go with a pair of field goals, Kendrick scored eight of her game high 13.

Before the Lady Dragons could catch their breath, the Lady Comets had stretched their lead to double digits.† Chelsea further shot themselves in the foot when they were whistled for an intentional foul that gave Kansas two shots and possession.† The Lady Comet offense then went into a ball-handling stall that burned the final minute of the game and put them into the state championship tournament for the second year in a row.

†††††† With their 46-32 decimation of Chelsea the Kansas girls travel to Oklahoma City, where, in a repeat of last yearís 1st round match up, they will take on the Washington Lady Warriors on Thursday, at Southern Nazarene University, with the tip off scheduled for 3:30.