Each time Carl Albert coach Tim Price looked at the scoreboard Friday night, he was surprised with the score.
The Titans, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, never trailed against Class 2A No. 1 Millwood in their 39-31 victory at the Titan Classic.
They even felt in control the entire time. They just thought they should have had more.
“It felt like we should have been up 12-15 if we would have hit some layups here and there,” Price said about the Titans' 19-13 halftime lead. “I really felt like we played a really, really solid defensive game and we rebounded well. We just never could get on a roll to push that led to double digits and put it away.”
Carl Albert (12-2) will face Class 6A No. 8 Bartlesville in the championship game of the tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Bruins opened the semifinals by holding off Norman 51-48 behind 16 points and 12 rebounds from Hailey Tucker.
Tucker, at 6-foot-2, provides a tough challenge for Carl Albert, which dealt masterfully with Millwood's size Friday with a 2-3 zone it rarely uses.
“We've played Millwood in the finals the last two years here and we've played probably 99 percent 2-3 zone because they're so big, they're so athletic and they'll just pound you to death with the boards,” Price said. “We've got to at least try to hold our own.”
Carl Albert opened the game on an 8-0 run and never really looked back, leading by as many as 12 in the second half. Millwood would get as close as five in the second half, but Carl Albert never lost control.
Oral Roberts signee Jordan Gilbert led the Titans with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bria Dean scored nine points for the Falcons on three treys.
SHAWNEE ROLLS INTO FINALS
After a red-hot first half, McKenzie Cooper's night came to a scary end early in the third quarter when the Shawnee senior came up limping on her surgically repaired knee.
It turned out to be nothing but a scare for Cooper, who had all 22 of her points in the first half as the Wolves thumped Stillwater 68-37 to reach the finals of the Shawnee Invitational.
Cooper, who injured her knee at the state tournament last March, made five 3-pointers. Bailey Taylor and Kelsey Simmons added 12 and 10 points, respectively, as Class 5A No. 1 Shawnee improved to 13-0.
The game was tight early, but Shawnee ended the first quarter on a 14-0 run for a 28-11 lead and pulled away from there. The lead peaked at 62-19 late in the third quarter.
Shawnee will face Tulsa Edison in the tournament final at 7 p.m. Saturday.
OKARCHE, PIEDMONT SET FOR FINALS
For the third straight year, Okarche and Piedmont will meet in the finals of the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Tournament in Kingfisher.
The road getting there for one more chance at beating the Warriors wasn't easy for Piedmont, though.
The Wildcats fought off Heritage Hall 58-50 in overtime behind Hayden Priddy's 19 points.
Okarche, meanwhile, beat Chisholm 66-42 with Morgan Vogt, and Kenadey Grellner scoring 27 points apiece.
Okarche won the previous two meetings between the teams.
Deer Creek will face Putnam City North in the finals of the Bruce Gray Invitational at 7 p.m. The Antlers routed Lawton MacArthur 51-26, while the Panthers edged Edmond Memorial 45-44. ... Freshman Ana Llanusa scored 22 points as Choctaw routed Moore 65-43 to advance to the finals of Moore's John Nobles Invitational against Lawton Eisenhower. ... Julia Sauer scored 26 points to lead Crossings Christian to a 59-50 win against Canton in the Okeene Tournament.