Northeast players had their mission statement printed and hanging around their neck the entire playoffs.
Early Saturday afternoon, they had a gold medal hanging alongside.
The top-ranked Vikings used a strong second half to pull away from No. 4 Alva for a 53-36 victory in the Class 2A championship at State Fair Arena just one season after falling in the same game.
“It started last year when we lost,” Northeast senior T’ona Edwards said. “Mission to me means family, dedication, hard work, commitment, all of that in one.
“Mission means something to us because to get back where we came from and actually win it is a blessing.”
Northeast (30-0) last won the state tournament in 1979 when it beat Choctaw.
Vikings junior Lanesia Williams scored 21 points – 14 of which came in the second.
Her intention was to go with the flow of the game, and it turned into easy points.
“Well, I just wanted to win and I wanted to carry my team to a state championship,” Williams said. “Last year it was tough to take a loss and we’ve been on a mission all year, and it just feels great to be undefeated champions.”
After collapsing in the fourth quarter against Fairview last season, the Vikings never wavered Saturday, even after Alva jumped to an early 11-5 lead.
Northeast lost sight of Alva freshman Jaden Hobbs multiple times, and she made them pay with 3-pointers. But the second half was a different story.
Second-year Northeast coach Londaryl Perry said he made some adjustments at halftime to a matchup man defense and one of the Vikings’ zone offense to counter the Goldbugs’ man defense.
“The floor just opened,” he said. “It was kind of like one of those things where it was just our moment.
“We basically made them pick their poison.”
It resulted in a 14-0 run that extended from the end of the second quarter into the third. A 21-17 Alva lead turned into a 31-21 Northeast advantage.
Alva (25-5) would only be able to get within six the rest of the way.
Hobbs, who averaged 29.5 points per game in her first two state tournament games, was limited to just 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Northeast senior post Chanel Akins scoring 10 points off the bench. Edwards also added 11 points and six assists.
For Northeast, the victory is validation after last season’s heartache.
And the mission is accomplished.
“This is awesome,” Edwards said. “This is a great feeling to not be on the losing side.”