Tahlequah Daily Press

March 7, 2013

Class 5A girls state tournament preview

Sports Editor

— Thursday (at Catoosa)

Game 1: East Central vs. Del City, 2 p.m.

Game 2: Deer Creek vs. Collinsville, 3:30 p.m.

Game 3: Shawnee vs. Memorial, 7 p.m.

Game 4: Tahlequah vs. Carl Albert, 8:30 p.m.

Friday (at Mabee Center)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 10:30 a.m.

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday (at Mabee Center)

Game 7: Championship game, 6 p.m.

Tahlequah Tigers

Record: 17-9.

Ranking: No. 7.

Coach: Chad Walker.

Top players: Marisa Girdner (Jr, 5-5, guard), Whitney Wright (Jr, 5-7, guard), Casey Beaston (Sr, 5-11 forward), Alissa Hadley (Sr, 5-6, guard).

Path to state: Area champion. An easy win over Coweta got things started in the regional semifinals, and the Tigers followed that up with their highest point total of the year in a 68-63 victory to win their regional over Chickasha. A week later, Tahlequah trumped Memorial for a spot in the state tournament.

Notes: This is Tahlequah's first appearance in the state tournament since 2001. The Tigers were runners-up that year. ... Tahlequah's leading scorer Randee O'Donnell is questionable for the state tournament after suffering a lower left leg injury during Tahlequah's regional game against Coweta. ... O'Donnell leads the Tigers in scoring at 10.2 points per game. Wright is the team's second-leading scorer at 8.1 points a game.

Carl Albert Titans

Record: 21-6.

Ranking: No. 3.

Coach: Tim Price.

Top players: Gioya Carter, Jordan Gilbert.

Path to state: Area consolation champion. The Titans breezed past Southeast before recording a six-point win over Del City for a regional title. A loss to Deer Creek in the area finals meant a 35-34 win over Lawton MacArthur was necessary for Carl Albert to make it to the state tournament.

Notes: This Carl Albert's ninth straight season in the state tournament, which is tied with for Fort Gibson for the longest active streak in the state. ... Carter has signed to play college basketball at Oklahoma. ... Carl Albert's last title came in 2000. The Titans have won four in school history.

Shawnee Wolves

Record: 24-2.

Ranking: No. 1.

Coach: Wendi Wells.

Top players: McKenzie Cooper (Jr), Bailey Taylor (Soph).

Path to state: Area champion. The Wolves cruised to win regional wins over Capitol Hill and El Reno. Shawnee then stamped its ticket to the state tournament with a 60-50 win over Piedmont.

Notes: Shawnee won its first state title in school history last season. The Wolves beat East Central in the finals. ... Taylor missed the final two games of the regular season with a shoulder injury but has since returned.

Memorial Chargers

Record: 14-12.

Ranking: No. 14.

Coach: Rabu Leyva.

Top players: Faith Ihim (Jr, 5-9, forward), Jessica Patterson (Sr, 5-6, guard), Kayla Whayne (Sr, 5-2, guard).

Path to state: Area consolation champion. Memorial barely made it out of the regional semifinals with a 43-42 win over Claremore. A four-point win over Edison followed for a regional championship before the Chargers fell to Tahlequah in the area finals. Memorial, though, responded with a 49-43 win over Bishop Kelley to return to the state tournament.

Notes: Ihim is the Chargers' leading scorer at 29.3 points per game. She also leads the team with 14.7 rebounds a contest.

Deer Creek Antlers

Record: 24-2.

Ranking: No. 2.

Coach: Totsy Manning.

Path to state: Area champion. Western Heights and Ardmore were no match for the Antlers during regional play. Deer Creek followed that up with a 47-40 victory over Carl Albert in the area finals.

Notes: This Deer Creek's first time in the state tournament since 2010. ... The Antlers have won three state titles in school history, including the most recent in 2006. ... Deer Creek is 3-2 against top-five teams this year, and it is 12-1 in neutral-site games.

Collinsville Cardinals

Record: 20-7.

Ranking: No. 9.

Coach: Kelly Clarke.

Top players: Shelbie Kirby, Haylie Kirby, Kryston Wheeler, Dakota Jefferson.

Path to state: Area consolation champion. After blowing out Skiatook in the regional semifinals, the Cardinals beat Bishop Kelley 35-34 for a regional title. Collinsville then fell to East Central in the area finals only to bounce back with an overtime win over Chickasha in the area consolation finals.

Notes: This is Collinsville's first time in the state tournament since 1985. ... The Cardinals won a title back in 1984. ... Shelbie Kirby leads the Cardinals in scoring at around 20 points a game. ... The Cardinals won the Metro Lakes Conference title during the regular season.

East Central Cardinals

Record: 18-8.

Ranking: No. 4.

Coach: Samy Mack.

Top players: Ariel Williams (Sr, 5-7, guard), Marcia Reed (Soph, 6-0, forward), Bria Pitts (Sr, 5-10, guard), Sharayla Brown (Soph, 6-3, forward).

Path to state: Area champion. The Cardinals have still yet to be tested during the playoffs. Wins over Durant and Grove during regional play were easy to come by, and Collinsville was no match in the area finals.

Notes: This is East Central's fourth straight trip to the state tournament. ... The Cardinals finished as runners-up to Shawnee last year. ... The Cardinals enter the playoffs without Arkansas signee Pitts, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this year. Reed and Brown are also hobbled by nagging ankle injuries.

Del City Eagles

Record: 13-13.

Ranking: No. 11.

Coach: Karri Sears.

Path to state: Area consolation champion. A win over Altus in the regional semifinals was Del City's only easy playoff game to this point. The Eagles lost to Carl Albert in the regional finals before advancing to the area consolation championship game with a 10-point win over Ardmore. Then, a seven-point win over No. 5 Piedmont stamped Del City's ticket to the state tournament.

Notes: Del City lost to McAlester in the first round of the state tournament last season. ... The Eagles' lone title came in 2009. ... Del City's schedule has included seven games against top-five teams. The Eagles have won two of those games.