Deer Creek's Bayli Blanchard has long since lost count of how many free throws she's taken at practice.
“Every day, I don't know how many free throws I shoot, but it's a lot,” Blanchard said. “Coach knows that it's something that we needed to work on.”
It paid off for coach Totsy Manning's Antlers on Saturday in a 59-44 win over Shawnee.
Deer Creek was 23 of 26 from the free-throw line, including 13 of 14 in the fourth quarter.
Dakota Vann hit all six of her fourth-quarter free throws, including four in the final 1:30.
“I just was trying to stay focused and don't let the screaming and everything else get to me,” Vann said.
MCGUINNESS READY FOR NEXT YEAR
Bishop McGuinness' bid for a second consecutive Class 5A boys' state championship fell short, but the Irish bring back several important pieces next season.
“I'm gonna build a foundation, and we'll be ready to go next year,” said Irish coach Tondrell Durham. “We've just gotta use this time to go back to work and see what we can do about getting back here next year.”
McGuinness lost all five starters from the 2012 title team. The Irish started three seniors in Saturday's title-game loss to Tulsa Memorial.
Sophomore Will Lienhard, who grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, and junior Stephen Amalong will be back in 2013-14, along with junior Brian Canfield, who contributed 17 minutes off the bench Saturday.
KENNEDY GETS WIN NO. 300
Saturday's Class 5A championship was extra special for Tulsa Washington coach Annette Kennedy.
In addition to being Kennedy's third championship at the school, it was also her 300th win as Hornets coach.
“It's special to be able to accomplish that at one place,” Kennedy said. “I'm at a great place. Whatever you need — they get it for you. There's so much support at Booker T. Washington.”
Kennedy coached in the panhandle at Tyrone for four years before moving on to coach softball at Northern Oklahoma College. She's not been at Tulsa Washington for more than 15 years.
“I didn't like the cold,” Kennedy said of coaching softball. “I had to get back inside.”
TPS CONTINUES RUN OF 5A TITLE-GAME APPEARANCES
The Tulsa Public School district's streak of Class 5A boys' state championship game appearances reached nine this season.
Tulsa Memorial beat Bishop McGuinness 59-42 Saturday to win the title.
The last time a TPS institution wasn't represented in the 5A boys' title game was 2004, when Southeast beat Ardmore.
ACADEMIC STATE CHAMPIONS NAMED
Edmond Memorial's girls were the only one of four academic state champions honored Saturday at the Mabee Center that also made the state tournament.
The Bulldogs earned academic champion honors in Class 6A. Stillwater's boys (6A), Tulsa Kelley's girls (5A) and Tahlequah's boys (5A) were also named academic champions during halftime of the 6A girls championship game.