– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
The first weekend of playoff basketball is in the books and we had some very interesting outcomes throughout the various classes. As 6A-2A hoops moves on to the area round, we take a look at the most notable outcomes and storylines to come out of the regional rounds.
Regional Host Goes Down
The playoffs began with a bang in 6A as regional host Lawton went down in the first round and found themselves eliminated from the playoffs after a close loss to unranked Choctaw. The Yellowjackets stunned the Wolverines late in the contest to win 63-61. They would then move on to the regional title game where they almost knocked off Edmond Santa Fe. Instead, it’ll be Santa Fe moving on to the area final against Edmond North and one win away from returning the state tournament.
Ponca City Wins Regional
Ponca City came into the playoffs as somewhat of an unknown. That’s not the case anymore. They also find themselves one win away from a very unexpected trip to the state tournament. They sent shockwaves throughout the state on day 1 of the playoffs when they knocked off defending champion Midwest City and sent the Lady Bombers home. They proved that it wasn’t a fluke when they beat regional host Owasso on a last-second three pointer to capture the regional crown. In a matter of three days, Ponca City beat not one, but both teams that were in last year’s state title game.
Collinsville Steals Regional Crown
Collinsville has been hot and cold all season but it appears they’re getting hot at the right time. The Cardinals have found their way to the area final where they’ll take on rival Claremore with a spot in the state tournament on the line. A week after narrowly beating Coweta in the season finale, the Cardinals beat the Tigers by 20-plus points in the playoff opener. The road to the area final got much easier when regional host East Central was stunned by Nathan Hale on Friday night. The Cardinals would knock off Hale and become one win away from the state tourney.
All Hosts Advance
While several other classes featured upsets and stunners, that just wasn’t the case with 5A girls hoops. Every regional host ended up winning their regional championship and moving closer to the state tournament. Five of the eight regional finals were close contests but the favorites won every time. Out of 6A and 5A for both boys and girls, 5A girls was the only class where all the favorites moved on and won. Don’t expect that to continue as the competition gets much tougher next week.
Heritage Hall & Kingfisher Stumble
One of the areas in 4A basketball just got a lot more interesting. Both Heritage Hall and Kingfisher are ranked in the top seven of the 4A rankings but only one of them can make it to the state tournament now. Both teams suffered losses in regional title games on Saturday night. Heritage Hall lost a hard-fought game to Anadarko on the road while Kingfisher was stunned by unranked Elgin. Now, both teams will have to win three games in three days to punch their ticket to the Big House.
Taylor Roberts Inches Closer To Record
Not only is Classen SAS one game away from appearing in the 4A state tournament, star guard Taylor Roberts is perhaps one game away from setting a state record. Classen knocked off Weatherford in a shootout on Saturday night to advance to the area final against perennial power Anadarko. In the win, Roberts scored a game-high 49 points and is now 23 points away from the record for most career points in state history. Howe’s Stephanie McGhee currently holds the record with 3,376 career points in the early 2000’s. It’s not crazy to think that Roberts could pass McGhee by halftime of the area final on Friday.
Lincoln Christian Wins In Rout
Lincoln Christian is off to a red hot start in their pursuit of a second straight appearance in the 3A state tournament. They’ve won all three of their playoff games in dominating fashion and have an average winning margin of 35.3 points per game. That includes a 97-64 beatdown of #8 Sperry in the regional final on Saturday night. The Bulldogs now turn their attention to 3A perennial powerhouse Verdigris with a spot in the state tournament up for grabs. Verdigris knocked off Lincoln in the first round of last year’s state tournament.
Class 3A on the boys side is completely up in the air at this point. As many as ten teams have a legitimate claim to being a contender for the title. That’s not the case on the girls side. We saw why on Saturday as three of the four favorites advanced with ease to the area final. #1 Adair won by 31, #2 Tahlequah Sequoyah won by 35 and #4 and undefeated Comanche won by 24 points. The other team in the top 4 is #3 Holland Hall. They advanced but weren’t as dominant as the other top teams.