SAPULPA — Chickasha players rushed into their locker room following Thursday night's stunning 52-50 upset of Southeast in the Class 5A boys basketball quarterfinals.
Coach Bryan Merritt chased after his euphoric squad and ordered them back onto the Chieftain Center court.
The Chicks re-emerged, sprinted up the bleachers and celebrated their improbable victory with the huge contingent of Chickasha students who made the two-hour trek to Sapulpa.
“Coach told us to go out there and cheer the fans on,” said senior guard E.J. Golightly. “It's crazy to see all those people come out and support you from a long ways away.”
The Chicks jumped out to a 13-7 lead after the first quarter, but Southeast — led by senior forward Rashawn Thomas, an NCAA Division I prospect — scored 20 second-quarter points to take a halftime lead.
“They were one of the better teams we've played,” Merritt said. “They're fast. They've got a great athlete, but our team wins close games.
“We just gut it out, play tough and our fans helped us out a lot. I'm really proud of my team. A lot of people didn't think we had a chance.”
Golightly led Chickasha with 21 points Thursday. Senior forward Joey Sylvester added 19 for the Chicks (17-10).
Chickasha, making its first state tournament appearance since 2004, advances to face defending 5A champ Bishop McGuinness at 4:30 p.m. Friday inside the Mabee Center.
“I don't think very many people at all figured we'd win the game,” Sylvester said. “We just had to stick together and see what we could do.”