Deer Creek’s retribution for an earlier loss couldn’t have come at a worse time for Shawnee.
The Lady Antlers went on a 21-10 tear in the third quarter to put some distance on the defending state champion Lady Wolves, and Saturday’s Class 5A state title matchup of Suburban Conference rivals went to Deer Creek 59-44 at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center.
Shawnee defeated the Lady Antlers 65-51 during the regular season.
“As well as they’ve played this year, we’ve still got a lot of young kids,” said Shawnee head coach Wendi Wells. “We played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart, but we’re not always under a lot of control.
“And give (Deer Creek) credit… they knocked down a lot of big jump shots.”
Shawnee kept it neck-in-neck throughout the first half, trailing just 14-12 after one quarter and 23-22 at the break. It was Deer Creek’s big third quarter that shook things up.
Shawnee went cold after Bailey Taylor connected on a driving layup to make it 30-27 DC at the 4:55 mark. The Lady Antlers stretched their lead to as much as 14 before the Lady Wolves put together an admirable rally that almost paid off.
Down 44-32 to start the fourth, the Lady Wolves made good use of the free throw line to slice Deer Creek’s lead to three. In a span of just over 2 minutes, Lady Wolves Micaela Yu, Shaiann Tramble, Monique Tramble and Taylor combined for an 8-0 run that had Shawnee down just 46-43 with 1:59 to play.
Deer Creek took a turn, however, and closed the game out on a 12-1 spurt — going 12-for-12 at the stripe.
Charities were a big factor in the outcome as the Lady Antlers were 23-for-26 (88.5 percent), and Shawnee was 18-for-25 (72 percent).
Taylor — wearing No. 20 instead of her usual No. 24 in honor of injured teammate McKenzie Cooper — ended the night as Shawnee’s leading scorer with 19 points.
Taylor, a sophomore, was 5-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. At the end of the first, second and third quarters, she had potential buzzer-beating treys come up just inches short.
Taylor was 5-for-6 on free throws.
Cooper, Shawnee’s leading scorer on the season, went down with a knee injury in the Lady Wolves’ quarterfinals win Thursday over Tulsa Memorial.
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Shawnee’s almost all-Suburban Conference state tournament included a 50-46 overtime win over Carl Albert in Friday’s semifinals.
“I feel bad for McKenzie and I feel bad for the team,” Wells said. “They played hard for her and she wanted so bad to be out there. You feel bad for them… they deserve so much.”
Yu, Shawnee’s only senior this season, ended her career in a Lady Wolf uniform with 12 points, three rebounds and two steals Saturday. She fouled out of the game with 1:22 to play.
Yu will go on to play for Northwestern Oklahoma State this fall.
“I’m really proud of her,” Wells said of Yu. “She’s grown up so much in the last four years. She gives so much energy and has been a great senior leader for these kids.”
Tyann Maytubby and Monique Tramble led Shawnee in rebounds Saturday with four each. Shaiann Tramble led in steals with five.
The Lady Wolves were 11-for-41 from the field for 26.8 percent.
“I’m really proud of this group,” Wells said. “I hope people don’t judge their accomplishments this season on the last game. To be state runners-up with this many underclassmen — they’ve accomplished a lot this season.”
Saturday’s runner-up finish concluded Shawnee’s third consecutive appearance in a state tournament. While posting their first-ever run of 20 or more regular-season wins in 2010-11, the Lady Wolves reached the state tourney for the first time, and left with an overtime loss to eventual champion Bishop McGuinness in the semifinals.
The Lady Wolves then constructed an undefeated (29-0) season in 2011-12, taking out Tulsa East Central for the gold ball.
Shawnee wraps up this campaign at 26-3, marking the third time in history that a Lady Wolves crew has posted more than 20 wins.
Another impressive number is that Shawnee — dating back to last season — has won 11 of its last 12 postseason games. The Lady Wolves are 9-1 on neutral courts for the year.
Deer Creek picked up a game-high 21 points Saturday from senior Ashley Gibson. Bayli Blanchard added 16, and Dakota Vann finished with 14. Vann led the Lady Antlers in rebounds with nine, and Blanchard hauled in eight.
Vann and Gibson each notched three steals.
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Deer Creek was 17-for-31 (54.8 percent) from the field, including 2-for-5 from long range.