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Tulsa Holland Hall moves past Lawton MacArthur, into 5A girls semifinals

Midwest City Carl Albert exacts revenge on Tulsa Will Rogers for last year’s loss

By Glen Brockenbush 

NORMAN - Morning fatigue didn’t seem to be a problem on Wednesday morning, as fans arrived at the Lloyd Noble Center well before the 9 a.m. tipoff for the first game of the Class 5A girls state basketball tournament. 

The first game did not disappoint in terms of drama. Behind standout performances from Elise Hill and Sophia Regalado, Tulsa Holland Hall had to fight off a determined Lawton MacArthur team, but survived, 54-48.

The only real drama in the second game was vindication for Midwest City Carl Albert, who earned a quarterfinal win against Tulsa Will Rogers, the same team that had knocked the Lady Titans out in the same round a year ago.

Tulsa Holland Hall 54, Lawton MacArthur 48

Holland Hall appeared to have the game wrapped up with less than a minute left. MacArthur cut the lead to three, 51-48, with less than 40 seconds to go, and even forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, giving the Lady Highlanders the ball under the basket.

A 3-point attempt was no good, and the Dutch got the rebound. But Holland Hall’s inability to hit late free throws - the Dutch’s main bugaboo all game (52 percent from the line) - gave MacArthur multiple chances to score, but none of their shots fell.

Elise Hill, who came into the tournament averaging about 18 points per game, was Holland Hall's top scorer from the get-go, scoring five of her team’s first seven points, and 12 points in the first half.

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For MacArthur, it was the presence of post players Alysa Mack and Alayna Vines. Dutch coach Crystal Lawson warned her team in the lead-up that Mac’s posts would pose problems.

“That’s what we worked on all week was how we were going to defend them,” Lawson said. “We were definitely outsized.”

Miranda Davis took some of the responsibility of guarding Mack and Vines, but got into early foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the first half. While Holland Hall led by eight at one point, an 8-0 MacArthur run late in the first half put the pressure back on the Dutch, who led by just one at the end of the half, 25-24.

“We knew that would happen, we knew it would be a game of runs,” Lawson said. 

Holland Hall maintained the lead through the third quarter, though the Lady Highlanders cut the deficit to 32-30 with 1:30 left in the quarter. But Regalado used a spin move in the lane and lofted a shot off the backboard for an artistic basket to extend the lead.

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With six minutes left in the game, Hill hit a 3-pointer that gave the Dutch a nine-point advantage and forced a time out. But MacArthur had been resilient in its state quarterfinal games in the past two years, and wasn’t going down without a fight this time, either.

After only making two 3-pointers all game, the Lady Highlanders got one from Tajanah Mardenborough with less than three minutes to play, making it a five-point game. MacArthur cut the lead to three, but no fewer.

Hill had a game-high 19 points. Regalado finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Dutch.

MacArthur was led by Mack’s 19 points and eight rebounds, while Vines had a respectable 15 points and six boards in her final high school game. Janiya Fisher, MacArthur’s catalyst through much of the season, fouled out with only two points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Senior twins Tajanah and Tajanea Mardenborough combined to shoot 2-for-12.

Midwest City Carl Albert 61, Tulsa Will Rogers 46

Carl Albert had made the previous two state tournaments, but lost in the quarterfinals each time. Last year’s loss came at the hands of Tulsa Rogers.

But coach Kyle Richey didn’t want his team focused on a game that happened a year ago and that involved teams that only really had the uniforms in common.

“We talked about it for a second, and it was over,” the Carl Albert coach said. “This is a new team, that’s a new team, and they followed the scouting report to a T (on Wednesday), I thought.”

Carl Albert’s scoring balance was vital to their success, as four players scored in double figures. Ariana Diaz and Kamryn Sutton scored 14 apiece, while Kennedy Cofer had 13 and Audrey Plunkett had 11.

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But beyond the scoring output, the senior trio of Sutton, Diaz and Cofer provided leadership to the rest of the team. When tensions rose, they were there to keep younger players level-headed.

“There were some emotions, and they helped calm (the freshmen) down, and say, ‘We’re fine,’” Richey said. “When you can have a player-led team that can take control on the floor, it’s huge.”

The scoring balance wasn’t quite there for Will Rogers. Despite a double-double from Julianna Matlock (20 points, 11 rebounds) and 17 points from Saniyah Morrison, the Lady Ropers couldn’t get much offense from anywhere else.

They didn’t make a single 3-pointer the entire game and shot just 59 percent from the foul line.