A trip to the state championship game was the natural next step in Seth Youngblood's Roland career.
The Rangers' senior guard reached the area finals as a freshman playing on the varsity squad. As a sophomore, the Rangers lost in the first round at state, then went out in the semifinals last year.
Behind 25 points from Youngblood, Roland is in the Class 4A title game for the second time in school history after a 63-52 win over Tulsa McLain Friday at State Fair Arena.
Considering what the No. 1 Rangers have accomplished this season, the main stage at the Big House shouldn't bother them. Roland defeated Tulsa Edison and Tulsa Union, state tournament qualifiers in Class 5A and 6A, respectively, to win the Tournament of Champions in December on the way to a 28-1 record.
“This means everything to us,” Youngblood said. “We're a confident team. We won't walk around cocky, but we know what we have to do to win ballgames.”
On the edge of blowing the game open when the fourth quarter started, Roland ended up needing some good free throw shooting down the stretch to seal Friday's win.
Roland was 12-of-14 at the line in the second half, most of that coming in the fourth quarter.
Youngblood made a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to help Roland build a 47-32 lead after three quarters, but McLain rallied early in the fourth to get within 48-42.
Corey Whisenant scored 12 points for Roland. Quentin Nails and Bishop Louie had 14 apiece to lead Tulsa McLain, which concluded its season at 16-11. Nails added 13 rebounds.
Roland will face the Douglass-Victory Christian winner at 12:15 p.m. Saturday in the finals.
Roland will play for the state title for the second time in school history, having lost to Bishop McGuinness in the 2007 championship game.