Playing on a big stage hasn't bothered Alva freshman Jaden Hobbs or any of the young Lady Goldbugs.
Behind 33 points from Hobbs, Alva defeated Dale, 57-47, Friday night at State Fair Arena to advance to the Class 2A girls state championship game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. against unbeaten and No. 1 Northeast.
No. 4 Alva (25-4) has earned a trip to its sixth state championship game in school history with three sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.
“We lost everybody from last year,” Alva coach Eric Smith said. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would be in the state finals, I would have told you that you need to be put in the funny farm or something.”
But Alva's freshman doesn't play like one.
Hobbs was 5-of-9 from 3-point range, and was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. She had 26 points in Alva's opening round 53-45 victory over Colbert.
“She is pretty special,” Smith said.
Dale (28-2) raced to a 12-4 lead Friday night but Alva responded with a 14-2 run to cut the Lady Pirates lead to 21-20 at halftime.
The Lady Goldbugs then distanced themselves in the third period as Morgan Shiever, Hobbs and Bailey Forell knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers to take a 34-25 lead.
It was the 3-point shot that was the biggest difference in the game. Alva was 9-of-21 from 3-point range, while Dale was just 1-of-9.
Shooting the 3-pointer is one of Alva's strengths, Smith said.
“It has to be because we are not that big,” he said.
When Dale made a run in the fourth quarter to cut Alva's lead to 42-37, Shiever hit a 3-pointer from the corner.
Then Hobbs answered with consecutive layups, the second coming after a steal in the open court that ended any hope the Lady Pirates had of a comeback.
The Lady Goldbugs haven't played like a bunch of young pups in the playoffs.
“It's been a wonderful ride,” Smith. “The kids have done a wonderful job. They deserve all the credit.
“Maybe we are so young we don't know any better. We got a tough challenge ahead. Northeast is the clear favorite. Hopefully, we will go shock the world.”