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One Tall Order
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Reigning champions shoot past Okarche

March 08, 2023 - 00:00
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  • Reigning champions shoot past Okarche
    OKARCHE’S Jadyn Rother (00) shoots over Seiling’s Isabella Hammons during the Class A state semifinals last Friday. [Photo by Chris Simon/www.simon-sports-photos.]

As if beating the topranked, defending state champion and overwhelming favorite to repeat wasn’t hard enough…Seiling had to make it even more diffi cult.

The Ladycats put on a shooting display that would be tough for anyone to beat, including Okarche.

The Lady Warriors couldn’t overcome it as their season ended 69-48 in the Class A semifinals at State Fair Arena.

“They are definitely hard to beat,” Okarche coach Haley Mitchel said of Seiling, which went on to defeat Caddo 54-40 in Saturday’s state title game.

Seiling has won six of the last eight Class A crowns and returns most everyone to next year’s team.

“They’re just a great team with too many weapons to try to stop,” Mitchel said.

That was the case in the first half as Seiling jumped on top 24-11 after a quarter and pushed it to 41-26 by halftime.

The Ladycats made 11 of 20 3-point shots in that first half.

They finished 13 of 26. Kenly Gore nailed five of them as part of her 20 points.

Braci Nyberg, the niece of Lomega coach Kevin Lewallen, led the team with 25 points and went 2 of 3 from long range.

After falling behind big in that first quarter, Okarche was largely able to keep up with Seiling the rest of the game.

The seventh-ranked Lady Warriors just couldn’t close the gap.

Jayden Rother led the team with 16 points while Jalie Rother scored 14.

Emma Stover added 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds.

Okarche finished the year 24-6 and reached the state semifinals for a second straight season.

“I am extremely proud of this team and their many accomplishments,” Mitchel said.

The Lady Warriors went undefeated in Three Rivers Conference games and also won the conference tournament.

They were also area champions. At one point this season - after opening the Tournament of Champions with two losses Okarche was 6-4.

“I felt that when this team came home from the Tournament of Champions in December, they had truly bought in and committed to wanting to finish their season at the state tournament,” Mitchel said.

“The senior leaders on this team did a great job at setting the tone for practices and games and this helped to instill a fight and competitive spirit each and every day.”

Since the second day of the T of C, Okarche went 18-2.

All of the team’s losses this season were to teams that made the state tournament in their respective classes: Preston (2A), Lomega (B), Bixby (6A), Holland Hall (5A), Amber-Pocasset (2A) and Seiling.

While disappointing, Mitchel said the final loss is cause for no shame.

“We would have loved to be in the state final,” she said, “but being beaten in the semifinals by the state champions is a great accomplishment.”