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Women's basketball: Plane crash leads to different kind of Bedlam for Cowgirls, Sooners

After OSU coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash, the Sooners went to Gallagher-Iba Arena under much different circumstances than usual. This is the first time they'll be back.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 13, 2012
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STILLWATER — When last the Cowgirls and Sooners met inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, the circumstances were much different from what they will be Saturday.

There was no game, no celebration, no winner.

There was only grief, sorrow and tears.

On the day of the memorial service honoring Oklahoma State coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna and two others killed in a plane crash, everyone involved with the Oklahoma women's basketball program was there. Coaches. Players. Support staff.

And after the service in the privacy of the Cowgirls' locker room, the two teams came together like never before.

“At that point, we weren't rivals,” Sooner forward Joanna McFarland said. “We were sisters.”

Saturday in Stillwater, the Cowgirls and Sooners will be together again, but this time, it's for Bedlam. No one is quite sure what it will be like. Not after that dreary, overcast November day. Not when you've experienced something that changed your life.

The morning that the news about the plane crash broke, Sooner coach Sherri Coale called her team captains into the office. Whitney Hand, Lyndsey Cloman and Jasmine Hartman were stunned and sad, but they knew the Cowgirls were hurting like no one else.

What might they need?

“We couldn't come up with anything that we could give them,” Coale said, “because the obvious had been taken away.”

So, they turned the question around.

“What would you want?” Coale asked the players. “If you put yourself in that place, what would you want?”

“Somebody to be there,” they agreed.

Coale nodded.

“OK, let's be present,” she said. “Let's go.”

Three days later, everyone boarded a bus in Norman for the 90-minute drive to Stillwater and the memorial service, a drive they will make again Saturday morning for the game. The road is familiar for many. Sooner freshman Sharane Campbell attended camps and a few games there. McFarland went on an official recruiting visit and seriously considered playing for the Cowgirls.

Budke and Serna wanted her badly.

“They were my second-favorite coaches, honestly, other than this coaching staff,” McFarland said.

Their deaths hit her as close as anyone not in the OSU program.

Plus, she knew fellow Kansans and current Cowgirls Lindsey Keller and Tiffany Bias. They crossed paths often on the girls' basketball circuit. They knew each other from when they were 5 or 6 years old.

McFarland knew they were hurting.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

OKLAHOMA AT OKLAHOMA STATE

When: 11 a.m., Saturday

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater

TV: Fox Sports Net (Cox 37)

Radio: KREF-AM 1400, KGFY-FM 105.5

Three things to know:

* Oklahoma is oh-for Bedlam this academic year. It has yet to beat Oklahoma State in any sport, losing in women's soccer, cross country, football, wrestling and men's basketball.

* The Cowgirls are undefeated at home this season, but the Sooners have won the last three Bedlam games in Stillwater and 12 of the past 13.

* Both teams have a super frosh — Cowgirl Liz Donohoe and Sooner Sharane Campbell. Donohoe leads OSU in scoring while Campbell averages 8.4 points off the bench.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Oklahoma (10-4, 2-1 Big 12)

Pos.;Player;Ht.;Cl.;Pts.;Reb.

G; Morgan Hook; 5-10; So.; 11.2; 4.0*

G; Aaryn Ellenberg; 5-7; So.; 17.7; 2.5

G; Whitney Hand; 6-1; Jr.; 12.4; 6.8

F; Joanna McFarland; 6-3; Jr.; 8.1; 7.9

C; Nicole Griffin; 6-6; So.; 5.1; 4.6

Oklahoma State (9-3, 1-2)

G; Tiffany Bias; 5-6; So.; 9.6; 8.1*

G; Taylor Schippers; 5-8; Fr.; 5.1; 1.7

F; Kendra Suttles; 6-1; So.; 10.8; 5.5

F; Liz Donohoe; 6-0; Fr.; 14.7; 6.3

C; Vicky McIntyre; 6-6; So.; 4.8; 5.8

* assists

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