TULSA — No. 1 Shawnee was stunned just two minute and 16 seconds into Friday’s Class 5A semifinal against Carl Albert.
Carl Albert junior and Oklahoma commit Gioya Carter had scored 10 points, and the Wolves had scored none.
“We clearly weren’t as fired up as they were,” said Shawnee senior guard Kelsee Grovey.
But as the Wolves clawed back into the game, Carter went on a roughly 24-game minute scoring drought and Shawnee won 34-29 to advance to Saturday’s Class 5A championship game against either Tulsa East Central or McAlester, who played later Friday.
Just like the last time these teams met, Carter’s funk was almost all because of Grovey’s stellar defensive effort.
“Kelsee just leaves you speechless,” said Shawnee coach Wendi Wells. “Night in and night out, she guards every team’s best player.”
After she put her team up 10-0, Carter didn’t score again until the 6:29 mark in the fourth quarter. She finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Grovey led the Wolves with 12 points.
“Grovey is not one of those players that does things that really stand out, but she’s just so solid in every single phase of the game — if you need somebody to handle the ball, to score, to rebound, to defend, she can do it all,” said Carl Albert coach Tim Price. “There’s not too many kids that can contain Gioya off the dribble and she’s definitely one of them.”
Carter’s early fourth-quarter trey brought the Titans within 3 points, but Shawnee went on a 7-0 run to give itself a comfortable lead.
Carl Albert finishes its season with a 22-6 record.
The Wolves advanced to their first-ever girls’ basketball state tournament last season, losing to eventual champion Bishop McGuinness in the semifinals. Shawnee entered this season with three NCAA Division I players — Grovey, who has signed with Tulsa, Oral Roberts signee Taylor Cooper, who moved in after leading Bethel to the 3A title last year, and Caitlyn Ramirez, another Tulsa signee.
Ramirez tore her ACL during the preseason and hasn’t played all year, but the Wolves haven’t missed a beat.