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Lady Spartans, Edmond North Clash in 6A State Quarterfinal – Presented by Rain Tech


Two days after being dominated, Bixby’s veteran Lady Spartans regrouped and turned in a dominating performance themselves in qualifying for the Class 6A Girls’ State Basketball Tournament for the third straight year.

Bixby (19-8) was knocked into the Area Tournament’s consolation bracket after suffering a 57-32 loss to Norman (20-4) in the Area Tournament’s winner’s bracket game last Thursday at Kellyville’s Event Center.

The Lady Spartans didn’t waste their final opportunity to advance to the state tournament as they seized control early in rolling to a 64-33 victory over Choctaw (17-8) in the Area Consolation Finals at Sapulpa’s Chieftain Center last Saturday.

The playoff challenge – held for the second consecutive year at the Lloyd Noble Center on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman – is magnified.

Bixby meets a familiar foe – top-ranked and unbeaten Edmond North (26-0) – in the Class 6A State Tournament quarterfinal at noon Thursday (March 9). The two teams battled in the 2021 and 2022 state tournaments.

In 2021, Bixby edged Edmond North 59-54 in the semifinals at Sapulpa while last season, Edmond North hit a buzzer-beating field goal to upend the Lady Spartans 59-57 in overtime in the championship game at the Lloyd Noble Center.

“We know we’ll have to play our very, very best to accomplish what we want to accomplish,” Bixby head coach Tina Thomas said shortly after qualifying for state. “We made our journey a little more difficult but once you get to the state tournament anything can happen. The girls will have the same resolve.”

Bixby’s area tourney winners’ bracket game against Norman started evenly enough as the Lady Spartans used three-pointers by Gracy Wernli, Gentry Baldwin and Kate Wernli to manage a 9-9 first quarter tie. Things went downhill afterward as Norman capitalized on its size advantage and its athleticism to create offensive problems for the cold-shooting Lady Spartans. A three-point bucket by Bixby junior Brynn Daniel got BHS within 15-12 with 4:23 showing in the second quarter.

That, however, would be Bixby’s only points of the quarter as Norman used a 16-3 run to lead by 25-12 at halftime. The Lady Tigers didn’t let up in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Spartans 21-7 for a 46-19 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

“They’re big and they use it well and they’re patient in what they do offensively,” coach Thomas said of Norman, which defeated Bixby 48-37 in the 2021 state championship game. “Their defense pushed us out of any offensive flow. And the shots didn’t fall … we were forcing some shots.

“At this point of the season we’ve got to figure out ways to score more than 32 points. Everybody is just too good. We got a little frustrated offensively which means we then had breakdowns defensively. I thought it’d be a close game and it should have been.”

Baldwin was the lone Lady Spartan in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Kayla Jones led four Lady Tigers scoring in double figures with 17 points.

The Lady Spartans were forced to flush that loss since the goal of reaching the state tournament was still in sight against Choctaw in the consolation finale. Bixby erupted from the opening tip scoring the game’s first 11 points en route to a 22-5 first quarter lead.

Bixby senior center Alyssa Nielsen, who was shut out for the first time this season against Norman, was hitting on all cylinders from the outset against Choctaw including swishing a rare three-pointer for the Lady Spartans first points of the game. Nielsen scored 11 of Bixby’s 22 first quarter points.

“It’s pretty sweet, I won’t lie to you. We had a pretty rough game as a team against Norman and to come out here and play as hard as we did as a team is special,” said Nielsen, who led Bixby’s scoring attack with a  season-high 22 points. “When I knocked down my first two shots I felt good, and my team did a real good job getting me the ball.

“We earned this win. We’ve been to state three of our four years and for the seniors it was a really big deal. We have the mojo now and we’re excited for state. We know Edmond North is a great challenge … we’re looking forward to it,” she added.

A jumper by Nielsen and a three-pointer by sophomore Ama Musick lifted Bixby to a 27-5 lead before Choctaw scored five straight points to narrow the deficit to 27-10 before Baldwin hit a layup and G. Wernli sank a three-pointer with two seconds showing for a 32-10 BHS lead at halftime.

Bixby never took its foot off the gas pedal in the second half, leading 44-24 going into the fourth quarter. With 1:23 remaining in the game, Bixby’s bench took the floor as the Lady Spartans closed out its scoring with a layup by junior Kenzie Christian and a three-point field goal by senior Sadie Beltran.

“We trusted each other tonight and the girls came out with a laser-like focus,” coach Thomas said. “I thought Gentry Baldwin set the tone … like this is the way this game is going to go. Alyssa couldn’t miss and she did a good job taking it to the hole … I thought she did a phenomenal job.

“She didn’t score the other night, what a difference a day makes. Norman played excellent defense. We just didn’t have many answers and we didn’t shoot very well. It’s hard when we don’t have an inside presence.

“It was very important for us to play like we did tonight,” she said of carrying momentum into the state tournament.

Following Nielsen in double figure scoring were Baldwin and G. Wernli with 13 points each. Nielsen also led the Lady Spartans in rebounding with nine. Junior Katelyn Davis led Choctaw in scoring with 10 points.

STATE NOTEBOOK – In other Class 6A Girls State Tournament quarterfinal games at Lloyd Noble Center Thursday, Norman (20-4) meets Norman North (17-10) at 9 a.m., Edmond Memorial (21-4) tests Booker T. Washington (20-6) at 10:30 a.m. and Broken Arrow (18-8) takes on Putnam City West (22-4) at 1:30 p.m. … The Bixby-Edmond North winner plays the Broken Arrow-Putnam West winner in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. … In 6A regional tourney play, Edmond North routed Oklahoma City Capitol Hill (97-3) and Mustang (60-22). In the Area tourney winners’ bracket, the Lady Huskies toppled Midwest City (56-35). … In the 2021 6A state tourney, Bixby defeated Choctaw (61-39) in the quarterfinals. … 

Class 6A Area Tournament


(Winners’ Bracket, Kellyville)

Bixby Scoring – Gentry Baldwin 11, Kate Wernli 8, Gracy Wernli 5, Ama Musick 5, Brynn Daniel 3.

Norman Scoring – Kayla Jones 17, Jordyn Rollins 14, Nessa Begay 14, Keeley Parks 10, Kaylyn Simmons 2.


(Consolation Finals, Sapulpa)

Bixby Scoring – Alyssa Nielsen 22, Gentry Baldwin 13, Gracy Wernli 13, Ama Musick 7, Kate Wernli 4, Sadie Beltran 3, Kenzie Christian 2.

Choctaw Scoring – Katelyn Davis 10, Raven Jackson 9, Shelbie Pherigo 7, Brooke Curry 5, Adison Kraeer 2.


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