TULSA — Kelsee Grovey was sick of the game being so close.
From midway through the second quarter until almost the end of the third, neither team could get a bigger lead than two points. But Grovey ended the third quarter with two steals and two coast-to-coast layups to give Shawnee a five-point lead entering the fourth.
The game never got as comfortable as Grovey would have liked, but the momentum carried Shawnee to a 45-41 win and its first-ever girls’ basketball state championship.
“I was just trying to get the lead,” Grovey said. “I had to do something to help my team get the lead, and if that means playing defense, then I’ll do that.”
She did much more than just play defense Saturday. Grovey also led the Wolves (29-0) with 21 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Her future college coach, Tulsa’s Matilda Mossman, was in attendance and left excited by what she saw.
“She’s a stud,” Mossman said of Grovey. “She’s capable of taking over a game, and I think when the game is close like that you want the ball in her hands and she comes through for you.”
Shawnee made its first-ever state tournament last season, losing to eventual state champion Bishop McGuinness in the semifinals. This year, the Wolves finished the job with their immense talent.
Senior forward Taylor Cooper, an Oral Roberts signee who won the state championship on her future college floor, scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds Saturday.
Despite losing Tulsa signee Caitlyn Ramirez to a torn ACL before the season started, Shawnee dealt with high expectations all season. The Wolves were ranked No. 1 for the entire year.
Grovey said that finally winning the title, in a way, is a relief.
“It just shows that we really are that good,” Grovey said. “We get along so well. Our chemistry is great.”
Tulsa East Central (26-4) ended its season as a runner-up for the third straight season. Saturday’s loss was particularly tough to swallow because junior forward Bria Pitts, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, tore her ACL in Friday’s semifinal win over McAlester.
“We threw some young girls in there at times,” said East Central coach Samy Mack. “Now they’ve got a chance to mature a little bit and we’ll be back next year.
“You had to learn sometime. Sorry you had to learn in the championship game, but you had to learn somehow.”