Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

April 2, 2013

Sweet 16 run caps Sooners’ season

NORMAN — You have to hand it to the Oklahoma women. Though the ride is sometimes bumpy, the Sooners always seem to save their best for last.

It happened again this season, as the No. 6-seed Sooners returned to the Sweet 16 after topping Central Michigan and, stunningly, UCLA inside Ohio State’s St. John Arena a little more than a week ago.

Sunday, via a 74-59 loss to No. 2-seed Tennessee at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OU’s season ended.

The Sooners finished the season 24-11, with an 11-7 conference record that was good for third place in the Big 12, a league that sent seven teams into the NCAA tournament.

OU also finished with seven healthy players in uniform, one of which, Eden Williams, only joined the squad at the semester, following the Sooner volleyball’s team’s ouster from its NCAA tournament.

“The guys have done amazing things this season against really unbelievable odds,” coach Sherri Coale said a few minutes after the season ended.

OU first loss was Kaylon Williams, the forward who closed her freshman season entrenched in the starting lineup, to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Next, though she’d rehabbed from knee surgery made necessary by a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a degenerative disk in Lyndsey Cloman’s back forced her to finish her senior season on the bench.

Then, the last week of November, three games after entering the starting lineup, freshman guard Maddie Manning tore the ACL in her right knee. And Dec. 6, against North Texas, Whitney Hand, the face of the program, tore the ACL in her left knee.

Finally, Sunday, 9 minutes into the game with the Lady Vols, point guard Morgan Hook suffered concussion-like symptoms after taking a knee to the head that sent her to the bench for the rest of the game.

If three Sooners had fouled out against Tennessee — as three Cardinals fouled out in Louisville’s victory over Baylor, played after the Sooners and Lady Vols — OU would have finished the game with four players on the court.

Given that, the story of the season is two fold.

It was one of perseverance and resiliency, of overcoming obstacles and, after all the injuries, well surpassing expectation. It was also about the legacy left by that perseverance and resliency.

As she left the interview room after scoring 22 points on the last night of her sophomore season, Sooner guard Sharane Campbell’s mind was well into next season even as she thought of each senior teammate: Hand, Cloman, Joanna McFarland and Jasmine Hartman.

“Whitney Hand taught me how to be a leader on the court. Lyndsey taught me how to play with emotion. Jo taught me how to be tough, crash, rebound, want the ball. Jaz taught me how to love defense,” she said. “I just learned all these things from these seniors. I’m going to be a junior but I’m going to show all my teammates we can do this.

“I’m going to take this role as being one of the leaders and try to bring us back here, bring us further. I think next year is going to be great. I can’t wait.”

Though two of them will be returning from surgery, in Aaryn Ellenberg (18.7 ppg), Hook (9.9 ppg, 5.3 apt), Campbell (10 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Manning and Williams, the Sooners will actually bring five starters back next season.

Having done more with less this season, they could be prepared to do more with more next season.

Coale sounded like she was sure that would happen, saving special praise for her seniors.

“The way I feel about these kids will fill me for years,” she said. “The young guys who got to see the examples set by the senior class, what a gift they’ve been given … Now they’ll treat their future teammates in the same manner.

“They know what it means to be right. Preach it all you want, but until kids feel it, it’s hard to get done. That’s the gift the senior class gave these guys.”

The biggest hole on the court will be the one left by McFarland, who averaged 11.4 points and 11.1 rebounds against conference opponents. Still, it was Williams’ talents that had her stealing McFarland’s starting spot a little past the halfway point of last season. If Manning can come back strong, OU will have three-guard starting backcourt — Manning, Hook, Ellenberg — all capable of handing the ball, pushing tempo and hitting the 3.

And if Campbell lives up to her postgame speech … well, it’s easy to paint a very good picture, even if it wasn’t very easy for the Sooners to walk away.

“It’s always sad at the end of something. This is just the end of a part of my life,” McFarland said. “But I’m looking forward to the future and I know this team’s going to be great next year.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks