WILBURTON – It’s Big House time for the Colbert Lady Leopards.
Colbert’s veteran crew of all-senior starters captured the 2A Area championship on Friday with a 47-44 overtime victory over Oktaha. Katherine Hair scored six of Colbert’s 11 overtime points to pave the way to State.
And now, Coach Chris Gillespie and the Lady Leopards are right where they worked to be all season: Among the elite eight teams of 2A basketball competing for a shot at the state title this week.
“It means a lot to these girls to come back from winning just six games two years ago. I’m proud of these girls,” said Gillespie, whose last trip to State was in 2011 with the Talihina Golden Tigers.
The key to the Area championship win was a 16-5 Colbert run in the third quarter. “We really hooked up and played well,” Gillespie said. “Our defense was there. The defensive effort was good, but early on we just couldn’t score.”
Each of the five Colbert seniors, plus reserve forward Taytiana Gray, turned in gutsy performances and critical stats where it counted.
Hair scored 10 points despite 1-for-7 shooting from the field. It was 89 percent free throw shooting which boosted the Lady Leopards. Her six free throws in overtime set the tone for the final rally. Hair also had five rebounds and three steals.
Bailee Weger scored 12 points on four shots from behind the arc. This included a pair of threes in the third quarter which helped Colbert rally from a five point halftime deficit.
Darian Bradford shared top scoring duties with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting. She also grabbed three rebounds, a steal and dished two assists (one of each in overtime).
Ginavee Mowles was quiet on offense with five points, but her 10 rebounds led the team and were likely a game-changing factor. She also logged two assists and three steals.
Taylor Lyons scored six points, including Colbert’s only field goal in overtime. She also had three rebounds.
Taytiana Gray grabbed four boards and notched two blocked shots in relief of Lyons. She also scored two points on a third-quarter layup which broke a long 28-28 tie.
The Lady Tigers took a 13-9 lead after one quarter and led by as much as seven before Colbert went on a 9-0 run to take the lead. But then the Lady Leopards went cold, and they shot 4-for-11 in both the first and second quarter.
The struggles inside and on the perimeter allowed Oktaha to take a 23-18 lead at the half.
Gillespie’s locker room words of encouragement must have been taken to heart, because the Lady Leopards came out firing on all cylinders. They went 5-for-6 from the field and outscored Oktaha 16-5 in the third for a 34-28 lead.
Colbert started the fourth with 0-for-6 shooting as the Lady Tigers scored four straight to close the gap. At 2:45, Mowles took the ball from Oktaha and found Bradford streaking ahead for a layup and a 36-32 lead.
Shelby Gamble answered for the Lady Tigers on the next possession. Then Jaylie Roper stole the ball from Mowles, and her layup tied the game at 36-all with one minute to go. The move completed an 8-2 rally for Oktaha.
Weger missed a late three, Oktaha rebounded and ran off clock without getting a good look thanks to the head’s-up Colbert defense. The Lady Leopards scored the first four points in overtime and eventually hit late free throws to finish one of the biggest games in Colbert basketball in decades.
THURSDAY, March 7: Class 2A State quarterfinals at Westmoore High School, Oklahoma City. Match-ups will be determined Tuesday by OSSAA.