Fighting to the bitter end . . .
Lady Jackets mount comeback, but Bethany pulls away late in state quarterfinal
There were those moments Wednesday night when the Kingfisher Lady Yellowjackets had all of State Fair Arena in the palms of their hands.
Unfortunately, the moments were fleeting.
Despite a monstrous comeback, Kingfisher’s season ended with a 55-39 loss to third-ranked Bethany in the Class 4A state quarterfi nals.
“Against a team with the length and athleticism of Bethany, you just have to do all the little things right,” said KHS head coach Taylor Young. “We just had too many stretches where we didn’t.”
But, oh, that stretch when Kingfisher put it all together.
The Lady Bronchos put together a 7-0 run early in the third quarter to build on what was already a double- digit lead.
When Keziah Lofton scored at the 5:11 mark, her team was up 34-16 on the Lady Jackets.
The outlook was bleak for Kingfisher, which had just one field goal since the 7:03 mark of the second quarter.
Emily Myers stopped Bethany’s spurt with a pair of free throws at the 4:42 mark.
One minute later, Addy Matthews buried a 3-pointer.
Bethany was able to sandwich a pair of field goals around a Raegan Snider basket, but the Lady Jackets were showing signs of life on offense.
“We felt we had a good game plan going in on who we wanted to go after in their defense to try to score against,” Young said. “Plus, early in the game, we were focused on rebounding and taking care of the ball, which you absolutely have to do against them.
“We didn’t do that for a lot of the first half and against a good team, that can come back and bite you.”
But finally Kingfisher was starting to bite back.
Matthews’ free throws with 1:40 to go in the third quarter brought KHS within 38-25, but it was just the start of something big.
Snider was left open on Kingfisher’s next trip down the floor and the sophomore sank a 3-pointer.
Then she brought the Arena crowd to its feet.
After Bethany missed a free throw, Snider dribbled just across the half-court line and let loose a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer.
Nothing. But. Net. Suddenly KHS had trimmed its deficit to just seven points.
Freshman Abbie Myers carried the momentum into the fourth quarter when she scored while being fouled.
She didn’t connect on the free throw, but the Lady Jackets found themselves within striking distance.
They got even closer on the next trip when Peyton Walker sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
That 18-point gap was all the way down to just two points.
“It just showed the discipline and toughness this team has had all year long,” Young said. “They just kept fighting and I’m just so proud of them for that.”
Walker’s trey forced Bethany to call a timeout.
The game turned when the teams returned to the court.
Kayten Donley quickly scored out of the timeout and then the Lady Bronchos ratcheted up their already smothering defense even more.
Kingfisher didn’t have an answer.
Bethany rolled out a 17-0 run that lasted until the final minute of the game.
The Lady Jackets struggled to get any kind of offense going over the final 6:20. Eventually they finished with 19 turnovers and Bethany scored 27 points off of them.
Bethany also had 15 offensive rebounds and 15 second-chance points.
The Lady Bronchos got 22 points and five steals from Zya Vann.
Donley scored 14 points. Snider led the Lady Jackets with 14 points and eight boards.
Matthews scored 10 and Walker eight.
All three Lady Jackets return next season as KHS loses two seniors - Emily Myers and Mya Dewberry from a team that went 23-6 despite losing 60 percent of its scoring from last year’s state tournament group.
“We had a lot of inexperience coming into the season, but I’m proud of how they stepped up and rose to the challenge night in and night out,” Young said.
She said she talked with the team on Thursday about what the program brings back and what’s coming up from the junior high ranks.
“I’m really happy with where our program is headed,” she said. “These last two years have helped lay the foundation for what is to come.”