BETHANY – Freshman Keni Jo Lippe’s two free throws with less than a second left put No. 1 Adair in the Class 3A girls state championship game.
After two straight years of losing in the semifinals, the Warriors won a barnburner over No. 9 Heritage Hall, 59-57, in the Class 3A semifinals Friday night at Southern Nazarene University, overcoming a 35-point scoring performance by the Chargers’ Erika Wakefield, a Tulsa signee.
With the game tied at 57-57, Lippe drove to the basket, missed the shot but got the rebound and was fouled by Heritage Hall’s Morgan Mercham with .57 seconds remaining.
“Being that close and getting an unlucky call that is a game decision is unfortunate,” said Heritage Hall coach Leslie Warner.
Lippe sank both and Heritage Hall did not have time to get off a desperation shot at the buzzer.
“I don’t think I have ever been part of something that exciting,” Lippe said of the semifinal contest that saw 14 lead changes and 11 ties.
Lippe said she shot the free throws just how she practices them.
“I knew they were going in,” she said.
Lippe led the Warriors with 19 points in the game.
“What a game. It was a great game,” said Adair coach Scott Winfield, whose team improved to 28-1. “It was the closest game we have played all year.”
The game was tight throughout with no team ever leading by more than four points, and that only happened once.
Wakefield scored the first 14 points of the game for Heritage Hall and had 16 of the Chargers 22 halftime points.
Warner said her star player couldn’t have performed any better.
“She wanted that game,” Warner said. “This was something she wanted since she was a freshman and she was going to fight for it.”
Lippe said she was impressed with Wakefield and Heritage Hall’s team after Friday night’s tense battle.
“I have a lot of respect for (No.) 15,” Lippe said of Wakefield. “She went out there and got the job done. She is an amazing player.
Warner said the loss will sting for awhile.
“It’s going to hurt for a little bit,” Warner said. “We feel we could be advancing right now.”
Adair erased two years of semifinals frustration with the victory.
“I have always dreamed of making it to this point,” Lippe said. ”For it to be here now, that we have made it to this point and know we are going to the finals, it’s so amazing to me.”
Adair will meet No. 2 Alva for the state championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at State Fair Arena.
Alva defeated Washington, 63-62, in the other semifinal Friday in a game that also was decided on a late whistle. Alva’s Jaden Hobbs was fouled at the buzzer and sank a free throw with no other player on the court and no time on the clock to end the game.