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Northeast girls experience the 'other' side of Championship Saturday

by Jenni Carlson Modified: March 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm •  Published: March 10, 2012
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Shayla Williams froze to the spot where she stood when the final buzzer sounded.

She crossed her arms and pursed her lips and tried to hold back the tears.

Didn't work.

The tears eventually started, and once they did, the senior guard from Northeast couldn't seem to stop them.

Welcome to the other side of Championship Saturday.

On a glorious day when 10 teams won state high school basketball titles, hoisting gold balls and celebrating storybook endings, there were just as many teams that came up short. They finished in second place. They took home silver balls.

And it stunk.

No one hurt more than the girls from Northeast, who blew a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost to Fairview 38-36.

“All of them grew up together, so they have a sisterhood amongst each other,” Northeast coach Londaryl Perry said. “To get this far and then for it not to end the way that we wanted it to end ... ”

Northeast was one of the best feel-good stories of the entire basketball season. After making state last season for the first time since 1988, then losing in the first round, the Vikings not only returned this season but also came back as one of the favorites.

That's because despite the Class 2A team playing more than two-thirds of its games on the road — with a schedule that included the likes of 6A Midwest City and 5A Carl Albert — Northeast still managed to win all but two games.

And these gals didn't do it with height. Their tallest starter was 5-foot-8.

And these gals didn't do it with depth. They only had nine players on their roster.

They did it with grit and hustle and some of the scrappiest, toughest defense you'll ever see from a high school girls team. They relentlessly trap and press. They tenaciously crash the boards.

Northeast harassed a bigger, deeper Fairview team into 16 turnovers and lost the rebounding battle by only five boards on Saturday.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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