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Henley West, Maylee Chaney guide Hammon to Class B girls crown

West has double-double as Lady Warriors hold off late push by Lomega

By Glen Brockenbush | Photos by Michael Kinney 

OKLAHOMA CITY - Leah Beer had felt this feeling before. 

But just because you’ve felt something before doesn’t mean you ever get used to it.

Even though she’d won a state championship five years earlier, the Hammon girls basketball coach still felt a tad overwhelmed on Saturday night minutes after her top-ranked Lady Warriors beat Lomega for the Class B state championship, 59-49, at Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City.

But perhaps her shock was less about her winning a championship, but knowing that her players had achieved something that few players get to achieve.

“It takes a little bit to just sink in,” Beer said. “I’m an old coach, have coached 30-something years; to see these girls get that one shining moment. ... Awesome.”

Hammon’s 6-foot-1 standout Henley West was always going to be a matchup nightmare for Lomega. Still, the Lady Raiders couldn’t have anticipated the kind of impact the sophomore had in the early stages of the game. 

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Abby Swart and Darcy Roberts hit 3-pointers for the Lady Raiders, but the Lady Warriors took the lead back, and Maylee Chaney’s 3-pointer before the end of the quarter gave Hammon a 15-11 lead after one.

It was in the second quarter where West and Hammon really showed their dominance. West controlled things inside, either swatting or altering nearly every shot in the paint by the Lady Raiders.

She proved to be almost unstoppable down low, and even hit a 3-pointer at one point. West led all scorers with 17 points and seven rebounds in the first half, not to mention three blocked shots.

Hammon held Lomega to just six points in the second quarter and entered halftime up 36-17.

After Hammon quickly pushed the lead out to 22 points, Lomega appeared to go on a bit of a run at the beginning of the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run to open the period, cutting the deficit back to 12 points.

But 3-balls from Harlee Benkley, Chaney and Justice Espinosa gave the Lady Warriors a quick 9-0 run to get the lead back to 21, 45-24.

Still, Lomega hit some shots and went to the free-throw line during the third quarter, cutting the Hammon lead back to 10 by the time the quarter ended.

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Swart and Roberts proved to be Lomega’s best scorers once again, combining for 40 of the Lady Raiders’ 49 points on the night. Swart finished with a game-high 22 points and Roberts scored 15 of her 18 in the second half.

During that quarter, the Lady Raiders were able to keep West in check. But while the sophomore post wasn’t doing much in terms of scoring, Chaney was, scoring 10 points in the second half after 11 in the first half.

After scoring the first basket of the fourth quarter, the Lady Warriors seemed content with draining some clock before hitting another shot to go up by 14. But Beer knew the Lady Raiders still had another run in them and told her team to be ready.

“(Lomega wasn’t) gonna give it up,” Beer said. “(Our players) knew it was coming. I burned a time out to remind them it’s coming, to weather it and to get through it.”

Her instincts proved the Lady Raiders showed resiliency, with free throws by Swart, plus a 3-pointer by Hadley Ott which cut the lead down to six at one point. Again, Beer told her players to keep their focus and finish what they had been unable to finish in their past two trips to the state tournament.

“We just knew we had to stay calm and be cool,” Chaney said. "We just tried to stay cool-headed.”

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With the game still in the balance, and with less than 2:30 left, a collision sent Hammon’s Justice Espinosa to the floor, where she stayed for several minutes. She eventually left the game altogether and was taken to the locker room.

Although it was bittersweet for the sophomore to have to leave the court, she knew her teammates were capable of finishing the job.

“I knew that my team had my back and they were going to pick me up and I knew that I would come back out here and they would be holding the gold ball,” Espinosa said.

Sure enough, the Lady Warriors stayed mentally strong, and Chaney hit free throws to seal the program’s third state championship.

The senior finished with 21 points, tied with West for top scoring output for the champs. West also finished with 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.