Propelled by 23 points by Bailey Taylor and 22 points from McKenzie Cooper, Shawnee’s girls advanced to their third straight Class 5A state tournament with a 60-50 victory over Piedmont Thursday night in an area tournament championship game at Edmond North High School.
Shawnee, the defending state champion and currently ranked No. 1, never trailed after scoring the first six points of the game.
The Lady Wolves led 17-9 after one quarter and 33-21 at the intermission as Taylor, just a sophomore, posted 19 points, including five treys. Her final 3-pointer of the night — from 26 feet out — came right before the halftime buzzer.
Taylor missed the last two games of the regular season with a shoulder injury.
Cooper had all nine of her first-half points in the opening period.
Shawnee scored only once on its first six possessions of the third period but Piedmont also struggled from the field. The fifth-ranked Lady Wildcats got within 37-29 at the 2:23 mark of the quarter, only to watch Cooper net four points and Kelsey Simmons add a bucket to put the Lady Wolves up 44-33 going into the final eight minutes.
Piedmont couldn’t get closer than 10 points down the stretch and Shawnee enjoyed its largest advantage at 55-37 with 3 minutes to play.
The Lady Wolves (24-2) trimmed Piedmont 62-57 in double overtime on Dec. 4.
“The big thing in the postseason is getting off to a good start,” Shawnee coach Wendi Wells said. “We told our kids to make sure they were ready to go at the start and play under control. We were fortunate to knock down some shots early in the game.
“Every kid tonight stepped up for us. I’m so proud of them. This team has matured so much this year.”
Piedmont was 6-of-10 from the charity stripe and Shawnee was 9-of-15.
Piedmont had averaged 66 points during a six-game winning streak prior to Thursday. The Lady Wildcats can still earn a state tournament berth at 3 p.m. Saturday against Del City, an 81-71 victor over Ardmore Thursday in an elimination game.
Wells said the state tournament pairings will be released Sunday.
Shawnee defeated Tulsa East Central in last year’s state championship game.
Note: Report compiled by Fred Fehr.