MOORE — From beginning to end, Dale senior Breck Clark left her mark in Thursday's game against Tonkawa.
Clark, who led all scorers with 25 points, shot the first and last baskets of the game in her team’s 34-32 victory against Tonkawa in the first round of the Class 2A girls basketball state tournament at Westmoore High School. Her most lasting mark, though, was the final two free throws she made to win the game so she could make it to “The Big House” at the State Fairgrounds. Dale will face the Colbert-Alva winner at 6 p.m. Friday.
As she stood in the back row of a photo in the postgame locker room celebration, Clark yelled “Big House” in place of “cheese.”
And the excitement of reaching the Big House continued when Dale coach Josh Forsythe walked into his locker room.
“Whoa,” the team said as they leaned back on their stools and laughed.
“Tomorrow we’re going somewhere,” he shouted. “It’s called the Big House.”
But his team’s trip to the next round was almost halted with less than a minute left in the game.
Both teams struggled to make shots early on, but Dale got out to an 11-3 lead. Still, early in the second quarter, they combined for eight empty possessions.
Tonkawa didn’t earn its first lead until 6:15 remained in the third quarter when junior Omega Reese lofted a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc. The score was 15-13. Reese led Tonkawa with 13 points.
But as soon as Tonkawa made one big shot, Dale — and specifically Clark — answered back. The senior hit a jumper. After the next 3-pointer Reese hit more than two minutes later, Clark answered with back-to-back baskets and then a pair of free throws.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Clark had scored 18 of Dale’s 25 points.
However, in the fourth quarter, Reese hit a 3-pointer to spark a 6-0 run. Clark ended it with a basket, and then Dale answered back with a 4-0 run to go up 29-28.
But none of the small details really fazeed Forsythe. He was happy when his team got pressured.
"When things got crazy and hairy and even when they got the lead, you took their best shot from them," he said.
With 39 seconds left and the game tied at 32, Dale got the ball and moved it around until it finally fell into Clark’s hands with around 10 seconds left. Near the top of the key, Clark was fouled with 4.7 seconds to play.
That’s when she stepped up to the line and knew that making the free throws would lead her and her team to that trip to the Big House they so badly wanted.
She made them both to give them the 34-32 lead. “Neither team was willing to break down or give up,” Forsythe said. “But like I told the girls in (the locker room), they took the lead and weren’t going to quit.”
And that is the reason they are going to the Big House.