TULSA — Choctaw girls’ basketball players walked off the Mabee Center court stunned, having just watched their Class 6A semifinal upset bid ripped from their hands in particularly heartbreaking fashion.
Yellowjackets coach Ryan Maloney stood misty-eyed outside his team’s locker room, searching for the words to descibe what had just happened and how he felt about it.
“We were right there,” Maloney said.
Choctaw led No. 1-ranked and undefeated Broken Arrow by three points with 30 seconds on the clock before Tigers senior Toree Thompson sunk a 3-pointer, Amari Dennis forced a turnover and Thompson’s game-winning layup fell through the net as the clock expired, giving Broken Arrow a 65-63 victory.
Thompson, an Ole Miss signee, led her team with 23 points. Broken Arrow advances to face Edmond Santa Fe in the Class 6A state championship game Saturday at noon.
“It was really like a dream,” Thompson said of the final 30 seconds. “It was surreal.”
The loss overshadowed a phenomenal performance from Choctaw freshman Ana Llanusa, who scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Yellowjackets’ valliant effort.
Broken Arrow led 34-29 at halftime, with Llanusa scoring 16 of her team’s first-half points.
Midway through the third quarter, Choctaw had taken a 50-44 lead, but Llanusa picked up her third foul and left the game, after which Broken Arrow went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead.
Llanusa reentered the game about a minute into the fourth quarter, and scored four straight points for the Yellowjackets. She scored 10 of her 34 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a critical free throw that would’ve given her team a four-point lead with 30 seconds to play.
Asked about the future of his young squad, Maloney said, “Great. I mean, we have one of the best players in the state, if not the best player in the state, and she’s only a freshman.
“She’s gonna continue to get better. She grew a lot as a player this year. We do have a bright future.”
Broken Arrow, meanwhile, moves on to a rematch with Edmond Santa Fe, which has won two of the last three Class 6A state titles. The Tigers (27-0) handed Santa Fe its only loss of this season in January.
Choctaw finishes its season with a 22-6 record.