Southeast is out to show that it is one of the best boys basketball teams in Class 5A, and Friday's win over No. 3 Coweta certainly helped the Spartans' case.
Seventh-ranked Southeast used the strong inside game of Rashawn Thomas and multiple outside shooters for a 58-50 victory in the semifinals of the Shawnee Shootout.
Thomas, an athletic 6-foot-7 forward, fought hard for his 17 points and threw down a backboard-rattling dunk in the fourth quarter as the Spartans put the game away.
“To come in as underdogs and beat them is good for us,” Thomas said. “We feel we have something to prove, and people think we aren't as good as we really are. We're on a win streak right now, and we want to keep it going.”
Southeast has won nine straight games while establishing itself as a 5A contender.
On the season, Southeast is 15-4, with only one loss coming against in-state competition, that a November defeat at Stillwater.
In the final, the Spartans will face an upstart Norman North squad that has quickly melded several new players together with returners. Payton Prince, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored 21 points to lift the No. 18 Timberwolves to a 76-62 win over seventh-ranked Stillwater.
Prince is one of the returning players who has been joined by three new starters, including two freshmen.
“We believed we could be one of the best teams in Oklahoma,” Prince said. “It took some time to get all these new guys together. We have two freshmen, so we're always communicating with them and letting them know that they're just like the rest of us.”
Southeast and Norman North will square off at 8 p.m. Saturday in the final at Shawnee.
ZONE HELPS CARL ALBERT ADVANCE
Carl Albert hadn't run much zone defense before Friday night's semifinals of the Titan Classic against Putnam City West.
But Titans coach Jay Price thought his team needed to use it against Omega Harris and the Patriots.
It worked, as Harris got his points, but Carl Albert largely held the rest of the team in check in a 72-67 win.
“I think we caught them off-guard a bit there with the full-court press back into a zone,” Price said. “And we rebounded well out of it.”
Carl Albert outrebounded the Patriots 36-29.
Carl Albert built the lead quickly, taking control with an 11-0 run that stretched more than five minutes over the first and second quarters.
The Titans led by 18 with just more than three minutes remaining in the first half, but Putnam West closed the half with a 10-2 run to climb back into the game.