David Reeder

Championship Saturday

After their second slow start in as many nights, the Kansas Lady Comets came back from as many as eight points down and rallied in the fourth quarter to snag the prestigious gold championship ball Saturday night versus Fort Gibson in the 11th Annual Oklahoma’s Best Tournament at TU’s Donald Chapman Center.

Make no bones about it….this was a huge win for Steve and Phil Odle’s exemplary program and a metaphorical ‘shot across the bow’ of every 3A team in the state.

The Lady Comets spent a three-day weekend taking on all comers and sending them away with a loss.

Kansas and Fort Gibson struggled in the opening minute. Neither team could connect on a two pointer and all the first quarter scoring came from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe.

The Lady Tigers got a pair of Jodi Glover treys and a Nana Wallace free throw for seven points.

Kansas committed five turnovers and scored only four points on a three pointer from Courtney Cowan and a Brooke Panther free throw, for the low scoring 11-7 first frame.

In the ensuing stanza, the Lady Comets, led by Panther’s three rebounds, dominated the boards by a 9-3 margin. But, instead of making the Lady Tigers pay, Kansas went on a turnover streak that included six consecutive empty trips down the floor.

Thanks to another Cowan trey and buckets from Kelsey Barnwell and Panther, the Lady Comets were able to scrape together seven.

In the meantime, Fort Gibson’s Julia Hill and Mikki Stone scored five and four, respectively, for the bulk of the Tiger’s 10 and a 17-11 halftime lead.

Ahead by six, the Lady Tigers had the opportunity to expand upon their lead when the Lady Comets turned the ball over six more times in the third. But as a result of the Kansas defensive pressure, Fort Gibson missed on their next 10 attempts from the floor and didn’t score until the 1:50 mark of the period.

With another trey and a pair of free throws, Glover scored five more of her team high 14.

Despite the rash of turnovers, Kansas’s Cowan scored five to go with four from Kortni Kendrick for all of the Lady Comet’s third quarter scoring.

Down by five to start the final eight minutes, Kansas went on 6-0 run to regain the lead for the first time since going in front 1-0 in the first. And this time Cowan and Barnwell fueled the late Lady Comet heroics. With a pair of free throws and her fourth trey of the night, Cowan put in five of her game high 16 points.

Barnwell scored five more of her own, two of which came on a smoothly executed offensive board and put back, that gave Kansas the lead which they would never relinquish.

Shooting 6 of 8 free throws, as a team, down the stretch, the Lady Comets held off the state’s 4th rated 4A school for the sterling 33-30 title game victory.

Semi-final Friday

Christmas came early for the Kansas Lady Comets in the semifinals of The Oklahoma’s Best Tournament, Friday night, at the Donald Reynolds Center, on the campus of Tulsa University against the state’s #2 rated Tulsa Memorial Lady Chargers. 

But it waited until the last two seconds of overtime. And as the final tick reeled off of the scoreboard clock, Kansas’s Courtney Cowan squeezed through the impenetrable, threw up the improbable and scored the near impossible goal, to pull off a 49-48 “Miracle on 11th Street.”

In the game’s opening minutes the Lady Comets ran off one of their patented runs that saw Kelsey Barnwell and Kortni Kendrick put in a trey each, to go with Brooke Panther’s bucket, sparking an early 8-0 lead.

And the Lady Comet defense kept the Lady Charger offense off of the scoreboard for the first half of the frame. 

By the time the quarter had concluded Lisa Bearpaw had scored five off of the bench to add to the Kansas lead.

But it would be the second quarter that put the Comets on the wrong side of a hill from which they would have to climb for the remainder of regulation time.  Turning the ball over 10 times in the period (a half dozen over a two minute stretch), Kansas shot only seven times from the floor, connecting on only three points each from Barnwell and Cowan.

And while the Lady Comets threw the ball away, Memorial, with five from Savannah Carter and four each from Sheibi Downing and Miracle Davis, exploded for 17 points and a 23-20 halftime edge.

The third quarter began and ended as a defensive struggle that saw Kansas outscore Memorial by a single point.  With some hard work in the middle, senior Brooke Panther scored a half dozen points, in addition to pulling in her ninth and tenth boards of the game, to send the game into the fourth with the Comets down by two.

Barnwell tied things up at 31-31 with a steal and a layup to start the fourth, but the Lady Comets were unable to trump Downing, who put in six more. 

That is, until Kendrick buried her second trey of the quarter to tie the affair at 42 with only :55 to play.  And neither team could break the tie before the end of regulation time.

Things looked dire for Kansas as Memorial scored the first six points in the extra session. 

But the Lady Comets refused to surrender. 

With another Barnwell layup, along with some clutch free throws by Cowan and Panther, Kansas had battled back to trail 48-47 with 15 seconds to play. 

Kansas brought the ball down court and finding nothing on the inside, they got the ball into the hands of Cowan.  The gifted sophomore tried to attack the paint from the right and was forced back to the left. 

And with two seconds on the clock, Cowan’s underhand off-balance shot banked off of the square and into the net for the buzzer beating victory, accompanied by the raucous revelry of the delighted Comet contingent.

Thursday opener

It wasn’t exactly the kind of game anyone expected as the Kansas Lady Comets tangled with Claremore in the opening round of the 11th Annual Oklahoma’s Best Girls Basketball Tournament, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the University of Tulsa campus, but it was the kind of game that won’t soon be forgotten. 

In the closing minutes of the tight affair, it was a chess match between the two benches.  And it would ultimately be the Kansas strategy that prevailed over the #4 ranked 5A Lady Zebras.

Claremore quickly jumped to a 2-0 lead on Meagan Martin’s short jumper. But after missing her first pair of free throw attempts, senior Kortni Kendrick buried her next two tries, to tie things up.

After forcing eight Lady Zebra turnovers in the first stanza, Kansas had the opportunity to put a lot of distance between them and their adversaries.  But they were unable to connect on a bucket until Kelsey Barnwell bumped in a deuce with 2:50 to play in the opening period. 

And that would be all the scoring in the first eight minutes of play as the Kansas girls shot a frigid 1 of 13 from the field.

In the second frame, Claremore’s offense continued to struggle, missing 9 of 10 shots form the floor.  But the Lady Zebras picked up a three pointer from Taylor Swift to go with a 5 of 6 performance from the stripe. 

And while the Lady Comets managed to hang on to the one point lead at the half, there was a disturbing amount of foul trouble already in the scorebook and on the near horizon.  

The second half commenced with Barnwell tagged for three fouls to go with two each on Courtney Cowan and Kendrick. 

And the Lady Zebras were able to retake the lead by 1, albeit momentarily. 

The Comets answered the challenge with a deliberate offensive scheme that eventually allowed senior Brooke Panther to put up 7 of her game high 15 points in the third.

With buckets from Barnwell and Lisa Bearpaw added to Panther’s 7, Kansas had their most productive output of the night with 11 points. 

Leading 22-16 to start the fourth it looked as though the Lady Comets might have things under control.  But with Kendrick, Cowan and Barnwell all tagged with 4 fouls each, Kansas decided to try and sit on their lead. 

And indeed, on three separate occasions the Kansas Ladies were able to burn at least minute off of the clock before being fouled or scoring from the floor. 

Following a pair of buckets by Claremore’s Sierrra Barnwell and a Jordan Schultz trey, the Lady Zebra’s had climbed back within one, 28-27, with 24 seconds to play in the game. 

Following another exchange of possessions, Claremore’s Barnwell founder herself on the free throw line for two shots and a chance to tie.  After bouncing her first try off the heel of the rim her next shot was waved off due to a lane violation. The Lady Comets now had the ball and the lead, and the Zebra’s would have to foul. 

With time running out, Panther added two more free throws to ice the game for the Lady Comets.