TULSA — Even in the final seconds of a championship game already put away, Deer Creek's players were diving after loose balls and playing solid defense.
They weren't going to let up until the final buzzer sounded and the gold ball was being carted out to midcourt.
“We weren't about to let this slip away,” Deer Creek's Ashley Gibson said.
The Antlers didn't, winning the Class 5A title with a 59-44 win over Shawnee on Saturday night at the Mabee Center.
“This does not feel real,” Deer Creek's Bayli Blanchard said after emerging from a raucous Antlers locker room. “I'm as happy as I've ever been right now.”
Gibson, who a day before struggled with foul trouble before a strong second half helped lead Deer Creek to a win over Tulsa East Central, scored a game-high 21. She scored 14 of her points in the first half when she and Bayli Blanchard combined for all 23 of the Antlers' first-half points.
“She cramped up a little bit but battled through it,” Deer Creek coach Totsy Manning said. “We put her on their best shooter and she came through defensively. We definitely had a defensive scheme coming in and they stuck to it.”
Sticking with the plan is something the Antlers started to learn Dec. 11, when they lost to the Wolves, who won the 5A title last year.
“Sometimes, you say there are good losses and that was definitely one for us,” Manning said. “They showed us our weaknesses. From that point on, the kids focused on sticking with the game plan and doing what they needed to do to get to where Shawnee had been.