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GROWING PAINS

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Lady Jackets exhibit inexperience, resilience during title game loss to Alva at Wheat Capital

  • Article Image Alt Text
    Rayland Garner fights for Kingfisher Yellowjackets vs. Alva Goldbugs
  • Article Image Alt Text
    KINA FROST lets go on a 3-pointer during the second half of Kingfi sher’s loss to Alva in the Wheat Capital championship. The KHS sophomore scored 20 points, most of which came during a rally that saw the team cut a 24-point deficit to seven. [Photo by Chris Simon/www.simon-sports-photos.smugmug.com]

All the phases of growth for a young basketball team were on display last Saturday night.

Undefeated Alva laid claim to its third Wheat Capital Tournament championship in six years with a 63-52 victory over Kingfi sher in the girls championship game at Chisholm High School.

However, after digging a likely insurmountable defi cit, KHS made the Ladybugs earn every bit of it.

“I think the biggest lesson we can take from the game is that we have to be ready from the tip,” said KHS coach Gerrett Spears.

“But also that we’re never out of it.”

The Lady Jackets were seemingly out of it when Alva scored a little less than midway through the third quarter to go up 36-12.

Kingfisher was held to 12 points in the first half and was scoreless through that point in the third.

Meanwhile, Alva’s Payton Jones and Lexie Reihm were unstoppable inside and out.

“We just didn’t execute defensively against them and we missed six layups in the first quarter,” Spears said of the growing defi cit.

But shortly after Alva’s lead grew to 24 points, the momentum suddenly took a huge shift.

Largely with Ally Stephenson, Melody Wilfong, Kina Frost, Rayland Garner and Allison Green on the court, Kingfisher made a furious comeback.

The team forced turnovers with its pressure, got some easy buckets underneath and then eventually got the outside shots to fall.

Green nailed a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in the third quarter to get Kingfi sher within 38-30.

After Alva answered, Wilfong ended the quarter with another trey to make it 41-33 and cap a 21-5 run.

“Our effort was tremendous,” Spears said. “Our shots started falling and the energy and pressure brought us back into the game.”

Frost cut it to 41-35 with a putback to start the fourth quarter, but Alva turned the tide soon after.

Reihm’s three-point play pushed Alva back up by 11 at the 6:55 mark.

Kingfisher got it down to seven with 3:06 left, but eventually ran out of time.

Frost, just a sophomore, led Kingfisher with 20 points.

KHS also got nine points from Garner and six each from Wilfong and Stephenson.

Stephenson, another sophomore, also had four steals, three assists and fi ve rebounds.

She was named to the all-tournament team along with Garner - yet another sophomore - and senior Jenni Beebe.

Jones was named tournament MVP after scoring 31 points for Alva, ranked seventh in Class 3A.

Reihm added 22 points and both players recorded eight rebounds. They combined to go 7 of 8 from 3-point range.

Alva shot 61.3 percent overall while Kingfisher was held to 29.2 percent.

KHS did force 25 turnovers, including 14 steals, and scored 28 points off of them, mostly in the second half.

“We are young and this was the first championship game for a lot of our girls,” Spears said. “We’ve gotten better all season and the kids have performed really well.

“To be in that game shows the growth. We will need to shoot better to continue to grow.”

The Lady Jackets got to the title game for the second time in three years with Friday’s 53-50 victory over Cleveland.

KHS led 25-19 at the half and then held on late.

Garner scored 14 and had nine rebounds.

Britt Taylor and Beebe scored nine apiece. Beebe added eight boards.

At tournament’s end, Kingfisher boasted a 7-3 record.