After building a 14-point lead Friday against Anadarko, Mount St. Mary left State Fair Arena disappointed for a third straight year at the Class 4A state tournament.
Rockets coach Rory Hamilton, though, said the five seniors on the team left a strong legacy to build on moving forward.
“What these seniors have done over the last four years is they really put Mount St. Mary basketball on the map, not only in the city of Oklahoma City, but in the state in general,” he said. “They accomplished so many firsts in school history they’ve created a pride and done so much in our community to revolutionize our school.”
Led by Kaely Bond and Aimee Rischard, St. Mary made the state tournament for the first time in school history in 2012 and then made the finals last season. The Rockets also won 90 games during their tenure, highlighting the best stretch in school history for the program.
Bond, an American University signee, is so far the lone senior moving to the collegiate level. Hamilton said it’s likely Rischard gets a shot somewhere.
Jordan Braun, Jordan Hagood and Brittany Davis — all contributors — also graduate.
The Rockets do return Adrienne Berry, who has also crossed the 1,000-point mark.
STILWELL HAS TO GET ON GLASS AGAINST DOUGLASS
With his home fans at his back, Matt Lea ran the baseline, caught a pass and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk for Stilwell.
The jam put the Indians up 32-30 in the third quarter against Mannford. It was a fitting symbol of the inside dominance of the 6-foot-8 center and his teammates on Friday, as Stilwell outrebounded Mannford 26-16.
Lea pulled down 11 of those rebounds. That inside presence will be key against Douglass, which will trot out a legion of big bodies in Saturday’s final.
Douglass beat Stilwell 77-72 in the 4A regional championship.
“We have to rebound,” Stilwell coach Ron Dunaway said with emphasis following the Indians’ 49-44 win over Mannford in the semifinals Friday night. “We’ve got to rebound, try to make them take tough shots, and execute offensively.”
THOMAS’ NEASE SHINES IN LOSS
Thomas was eliminated from the Class 2A boys state tournament on Friday after a 54-39 loss to Latta.
Despite the lopsided defeat, junior Chezden Nease put on one of the best performances inside State Fair Arena on Friday. Nease scored 22 of Thomas’ 39 points while facing constant pressure from a suffocating Latta defense.
“I thought we actually did a great job (defending) the Nease kid,” said Latta coach Donnie Husband. “We made him work really hard. Credit to him for still making plays for them. He’s a really fine player.”
Nease averaged 19.5 points per game to lead the Terriers this season.
VERDIGRIS SET TO RELOAD
The Verdigris boys program has built a strong tradition over the last 10 years, making nine appearances in the state tournament since first going in 2004.
On Friday, the Cardinals were eliminated for this year’s Class 3A tournament with a 62-51 loss to Centennial. But with three starters set to return, and just three seniors departing, expect Verdigris to be back in the state tournament conversation next season.
“It was an enjoyable year with a bunch of high character kids,” said Verdigris coach Randy Upshaw. “We’ve got three starters coming back and some other good, young kids coming back. But we didn’t play a bunch of kids this year, so some of the younger talent still has to prove they can do something.”
Leading scorer Cade Upshaw, who averaged 17 points per game as a junior, will be the Cardinals’ most experienced returnee next season. The other returning starters will be sophomore Laef Payne and freshman Brewster Peacock. Payne averaged 11 points per game this season, while Peacock averaged 10 points and nine rebounds.