With the playoff splits being released this week, Putnam City North picked a perfect time to get on a roll.
The Panthers are headed east when the girls basketball playoffs open. With each win leading up to then, their playoff positioning could improve.
On Saturday, their 45-33 win against Class 5A No. 4 Deer Creek in the title game of the Bruce Gray Invitational had that kind of implication.
“I feel like we've got good chemistry going right now,” said senior Sidney Carolina, the tournament MVP. “This is a big-time win for us. We're getting the feel of things now. It took us awhile, but now we're pulling together.”
Carolina led the Panthers (11-5) with 14 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists. She also anchored a suffocating trap defense that forced Deer Creek to commit 20 turnovers.
“She does everything,” Putnam City North coach Brett McGhee said. “She's a big reason our press is so good in the back because she is such a good anticipator.”
Putnam City North took control early and never relented, jumping to a 13-0 lead before Deer Creek's Dakota Vann made two free throws with 50.2 seconds left in the quarter.
The Panthers' lead eventually ballooned to 23-5 in the second quarter. The Antlers were able to get within five in the second half, before the Panthers made another run to seal the game and first championship in the tournament since 2011.
Deer Creek had won the last two titles in the tournament, beating Putnam City North each time. This time, it felt good for the Panthers to win and improve their postseason seeding.
“Yesterday, beating Edmond Memorial was huge because they are going east too,” McGhee said. “This is the time you want to play good as far as the end of the season. This is huge for our confidence and huge for our playoff positioning.”