Edmond Santa Fe coach Paul Bass wanted the ball in senior Tamara Lee’s hands late in the game Saturday afternoon.
Entering the fourth tied at 40 with No. 17 Southmoore, Lee essentially took the game over.
And it came at the free-throw line as she made 11 of 12 free shots to lift the second-ranked Wolves 57-50 to win the regional championship after trailing by 10 in the first half.
“When you foul her, she’s going to drain just about every free throw,” Bass said of Lee. “I just try to give her the ball and tell her to make them foul you. Her getting to the line is the best offense right there.”
Free throws were basically the offense in the fourth, as the Wolves made just one field goal along with 15 free throws.
“This was really tough,” said Lee, who finished with 27 points. “We had to just come out there and play hard. We’re both really good teams and we just wanted to show who was better.”
Santa Fe (22-1) advances to play No. 7 Norman North in the area championship Thursday at a site to be determined with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
Saturday, though, felt like the state tournament.
After opening the season on a tear and reaching No. 3 in the coaches’ poll, Southmoore has fallen on hard times with junior Serithia Hawkins being injured. Back on the floor Saturday, Hawkins was nearly unstoppable early for the SaberCats, who looked more like the early season version of themselves.
She scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half — 10 in the first quarter — and at one point had her team leading by 10.
Foul trouble proved to be her downfall, though.
Hawkins, who also finished with 16 rebounds, picked up her third foul with 7:27 left in the first half, but did not leave the floor. Fellow post Kyeria Hannah also picked up her third foul in the second, changing the way Southmoore attacked as Santa Fe rallied and took a 32-29 lead it never relented while both Hawkins and Hannah cautiously remained on the floor.