Lady Sandite Dream Season comes to an end, 64-54 against No. 4 Deer Creek


1Q CPHS 17-7
2Q DCHS 18-5
3Q All 16-16
4Q DCHS 23-16

Free Throws: CPHS 16-of-27, DCHS 20-of-28.
Field Goals: CPHS 18-of-38, DCHS 20-of-46.
Fouls: CPHS 22, DCHS 19.

Scoring: (CPHS) Mutiri 16, Johnson 12, McGee 9, Pennington 9, Kersgieter 7, Wilson 1. (DCHS) Fields 20, Manning 16, Vann 10, Rehl 9, Blackburn 5, Mouser 3, Wade 1.

(CPHS Only)
Offensive Rebounds: Mutiri 3, Wilson 1, Johnson 1, McGee 1. 
Defensive Rebounds: Pennington 8, Mutiri 5, McGee 3, Taber 3, Johnson 2, Kersgieter 2.
Assists: Johnson 5, Kersgieter 2, McGee 1, Pennington 1, Taber 2, Regalado 1.
Blocks: Mutiri 5, Pennington 1. 
Steals: Kersgieter 3, Johnson 1.

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The Charles Page High School Girls' Basketball program has officially returned to the big leagues, making their first appearance at the Oral Roberts Mabee Center since 1994.

The third-ranked Lady Sandites (24-2) took on the fourth-ranked Deer Creek Antlers (26-2) and saw their dream season finally come to an end, despite outstanding performances from a mostly young team.

Sand Springs took an early and dominant lead in the first quarter, but the Lady Antlers were familiar with playing from a deficit. They trailed No. 6 Booker T. Washington (22-6) for much of their quarterfinal game before securing the seven-point win. Deer Creek played quick catch-up with a thirteen-point streak in the second quarter and the teams stayed in close proximity for the duration.

6'1" Ohio State Volleyball-commit Gloria Mutiri struck first off an assist from Destiny Johnson, then scored on a rebounded three from senior Kierra McGee and hit two from the charity stripe for a 6-2 Sandite lead. Kendall Blackburn was first on the board for the Lady Antlers, followed by a free throw from Hannah Wade, but then it was Mutiri right back in the action off an assist from Oklahoma State Softball-signed senior Sydney Pennington.

Sydney Manning posted two for Deer Creek, but McGee's next three-point attempt sailed true, Mutiri added one from the free throw line, then sophomore Holly Kersgieter scored on an assist from classmate Isabella Regalado. Lauren Fields hit her first basket of the night soon after, but McGee had the final say of the stanza from three point range for the 17-7 lead.

Kersgieter posted the first points of the second quarter after Deer Creek turned over their first possession, but Maddie Rehl and Skylar Vann scored the first back-to-back baskets of the game for the Antlers. Sand Springs turned over four-straight possession, allowing Vann to score back-to-back with herself, cutting the deficit to 19-13 before Brynn Mouser sank a two and Fields hit a three to narrow it to 19-18. Pennington missed a pair of free throws, McGee rebounded, but turned it over, and Vann scored through contact for the first Antler lead of the game.

The thirteen-straight scoring streak came to an end with a McGee free throw to tie it at 20-20, but Fields made both of her free throws to reclaim the advantage. McGee got another shot on a 1-1 and sank both, but fouled Rehl to give up one. The Sandites' last possession came up short and Blackburn iced the cake for the Antlers with a two-point shot as time expired.

Fields kicked off the second half on the opening possession, but Mutiri retaliated off a rebounded shot by Johnson. Manning and Johnson each went two-for-two from the charity stripe, broken up by another Mutiri field goal, cutting the gap to a single point at 29-28. 

The Antlers got busy from three-point range with baskets by Fields and Manning, but they also got busy fouling, giving up free throws to Pennington and Johnson, as well as a pair of turnovers, allowing Pennington to cut it to 35-34. Kersgieter scored the go-ahead basket, Manning retaliated, then Johnson took it right back with a pair of free throws. The Antlers had the final say of the period with goals by Vann and Fields for a 41-38 lead to start the final stranza.

Johnson opened the fourth quarter with one of her signature transition layups, but Manning scored a two and Blackburn hit a free throw before Pennington got in the action. The Antlers went on another run from there with a Manning three for the catalyst. Fields and Vann both scored off steals, then McGee sent Rehl to the line for one. 

Kersgieter returned to the game after a slight injury and immediately went to work, assisting Mutiri for two, then scoring one from the charity stripe, but the Sandites never would regain the advantage in the fourth quarter. 

As time dwindled and the possibility of a come-back became more and more unlikely, Head Coach Dustin Morrow was able to empty his bench, and give the majority of the team State Tournament experience. The Sandites will lose only two starters next year when they graduate Pennington and McGee, and they return a mess of talented underclassmen to anchor the program for the years to come.

The Lady Sandites will return to the Mabee Center next Christmas Break for the prestigious Tournament of Champions, and with so many returning stars, they may likely find themselves back in the spotlight for the next State Tournament as well.

For now, they'll have to settle for having one of the best seasons in school history with Championship wins at the Bishop Kelley Tournament, the Coffeyville Interstate Classic, the Regional tournament, and the Area tournament to compliment their 13-1 Frontier Valley Conference Championship. Not a bad run, to say the least.

Deer Creek will return to action Saturday at noon in the Championship Finals against the winner of No. 1 Edmond Santa Fe (25-2) vs No. 2 Choctaw (24-3). The Lady Antlers have already prevailed 68-51 over Santa Fe and 62-50 over Choctaw since the final rankings came out, and would likely have been ranked No. 1 in the State if the rankings continued through the playoffs.