For the second consecutive season, Okarche played in the Class A state championship game.
And for the second time, Okarche's Rae Grellner brought the house down before the game even started.
Grellner played the national anthem on the violin, then went out and helped Okarche win the state championship with a 59-47 victory over Cheyenne/Reydon.
“It's still nerve-wracking but it's nothing like the nerves of playing in the game,” Grellner said. “I've done that a lot. I've only played in two state championship games.”
Grellner, a junior, has been playing the violin for 10 years.
“I was thinking about the game the whole time I was playing,” Grellner said. “I spent all day thinking about the game. I hated waiting. I just wanted to play.”
Grellner also had possibly the oldest fan in State Fair Arena on her side.
Her great-grandfather, 96-year-old Francis Kretchmar, was in attendance for Okarche's three state tournament wins.
Kretchmar lives in St. Katharine Drexel Retirement Center in El Reno.
GLENCOE'S LAZENBY CALLED HIS SHOT
With 9.2 seconds left, Glencoe players headed to the bench for a timeout before Ty Lazenby's upcoming free throw to clinch the Class A boys state championship.
Coach John Lazenby instructed his team on what to do after Ty made the free throw, and then — just in case — he prepared his team for how to react if his son's shot didn't go in.
Then Ty chimed in.
“He goes, ‘Guys, I'm not missing it, and I want a big dogpile out there when the horn goes off,'” John Lazenby said. “You've got to appreciate confidence in kids like that — because he missed two just a few minutes earlier.”
Glencoe defeated Weleetka 54-50 to win the school's second state title, the first coming in 2006. And it was John Lazenby's first in five state tournament appearances during his 25-year coaching career.
ACADEMIC CHAMPS CROWNED
Pond Creek-Hunter was named the Class A boys basketball academic state champion for the second straight season at halftime of the Class B girls championship game. The Panthers had a cumulative GPA of 3.75.
Okarche was also named the Class A girls champion with a GPA of 3.90.
In Class B, Burlington won the boys title with a GPA of 3.84, and McCurtain won the girls title with a GPA of 4.0.
LOMEGA FALLS SHORT OF RECORD
If Lomega's girls would have won the Class B championship Saturday, it would have been a record 12th state championship for the Raiders.
Lomega won its 11th title last season, tying Byng for first place.
“It's not that bad,” Lomega coach Kyle Lewallen said. “We'll be back. We've got four coming back off that team right there. We lose a great one with Ashley (LaGasse), but with the other four we'll be back.”
Lomega lost to Erick 56-53 in double overtime.
The Raiders have won 10 titles as Lomega and one as Omega (1955).
JANZ TURNS ERICK AROUND
When Erick coach Justin Janz took over the Erick program eight years ago, it was not in a good place.
But slowly he helped turn it around, and that culminated with the school's second state championship Saturday.
“Bad,” Janz said about the state of the program when he arrived. “I hate to be that way to the girls, but I think my first year we were 6-19 and second year we were 5-19. The girls that I had right then, they worked hard, they tried everything and they believed in me.
“Then we started getting a little better after that, a little better after that, a little better after that and two years ago we made the state tournament. We just got a bad break last year and didn't get here; we felt like we belonged.”
Erick returns four starters next season, but loses top scorer Maranda Janz, who is Justin Janz's daughter.
“I think we built tradition,” she said.
Three games went into overtime during the three-day span of the Class B girls state tournament, and all of them involved Lomega and Erick.
On Thursday, Lomega beat Leedey 63-62 in double overtime.
Erick, though, had a knack for winning in the dramatic fashion, beating Shattuck on Friday 51-44 in overtime and then beating Lomega 56-53 in double overtime Saturday.
“It was fun,” Erick's Makenzie Janz said. “We just had to come play ball. Whatever we had to go through, we just came and played ball. We knew we would probably be the underdogs this weekend, but we just played and had a good time.”
EARLY FOUL TROUBLE HINDERS ASKA
After Saturday night’s loss in the Class B state title game, Tony Aska Jr. held the silver runner-up trophy and posed for photos with family members. But it was hard to force a smile for the photos after Aska and Coyle lost to Arnett, 70-61.
“It’s very disappointing, not only because it’s my senior year but we really had a good chance in this game,” Aska said.
Arnett erased a 21-point Coyle lead in the game. The 6-6 Aska, nephew of former National Football League player and University of Central Oklahoma great, Joe Aska, was whistled for two quick fouls in the first quarter.
After that, Aska admitted that he became tentative.
“It did take away some of my aggressiveness,” he said. “I was really worried about getting in foul trouble and sitting out the rest of my last game.”