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Washington wins thriller against Kiefer, will play Jones for 3A girls title

Kelby Beller scores late basket to put Lady Warriors ahead, now face 2-time defending champions

By Glen Brockenbush and Ty Loftis

OKLAHOMA CITY - The top-ranked Washington girls found themselves down by 11 at one point, but came back to knock off No. 5 Kiefer, 46-43, in Friday’s Class 3A girls semifinal game at Jim Norick Arena.

The Lady Warriors will face Jones, who beat Bethel earlier in the day, 65-54. The Lady Longhorns are seeking their third consecutive state championship.

Washington 46, Kiefer 43

A night after Kiefer’s Hannah Coons scored 37 points against Kingston, Washington made a conscious effort to clamp down on the sophomore.

“All eyes were on her,” Washington’s Kelby Beller said. “We had to help as much as we could.” 

Coons ended the first half with eight points, a far cry from the 25 she had at that point a night before. But with the Lady Warriors focused on Coons, other players like Pepper Watashe and Kammie Smith were able to get looks, with each of them connecting from outside the arc in the first half.

Watashe had two 3-pointers to have six points at halftime, while Shayna Hendrix had six points, too. The Lady Trojans led, 26-17, at the break.

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Washington began to come back in the third, and the Lady Warriors were buoyed by their performance at the free-throw line. They shot 15-for-18 from the charity stripe in the second half.

By contrast, Kiefer’s struggles at the line (1-for-6 in the second half) let Washington back into the game.

Still, Kiefer led 35-32 after three quarters. Despite having the bigger team and the most fearsome post player on the court in Coons, Kiefer was out-rebounded again and again.

Washington narrowed the deficit to one on multiple occasions in the early stages of the fourth quarter, and finally with six minutes left, Breanna Lindert made two free throws to give the Lady Warriors a 37-36 lead. The score remained that way for the better part of four minutes, until Lindert scored a basket to put Washington up by three.

Kiefer cut the deficit to a point and got the ball back after a missed Washington shot. Coons scored a basket to give Kiefer the lead back, but Beller returned the favor.

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“I just started praying and went and scored, and that’s the proudest I’ve ever been of myself,” Beller said.

Kiefer brought the ball back up, but a traveling call ended the threat. Two free throws by the Lady Warriors did the trick.

Rielyn Scheffe finished the game as the leading scorer with 17 points for Washington. Beller finished with 10 points, while Lindert had 11 points to go with 12 rebounds.

Coons still had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Hendrix had 12 points.

Jones 65, Bethel 54

Midway through the third quarter, the Lady Longhorns led by 13 and it appeared as if Jones was going to cruise to victory.

But Josie Megehee and the Bethel Lady Wildcats had other ideas as they went on a 14-0 run to take a brief 40-39 lead. However, a Boston Berry 3 at the end of the third quarter gave Jones a two-point edge going into the final frame.

“You have to give Bethel credit,” Lady Longhorn coach Jenni Holbrook said. “They could have folded, but we knew they wouldn’t. They are too good of a team for that.”

The Lady Wildcats held tough in the fourth quarter as well, with Megehee scoring five early points, tying the game at 45 with six minutes to go. Berry and the Lady Longhorns were too much, though.

Berry drained a jumper that put Jones up, 49-47, and they never looked back from there. Berry finished the game with 28 points, and Berry said she wanted nothing more than to get to the title game.

“We refused to lose (Friday),” Berry said. “I was going to do whatever it took to get to the championship (Saturday) and it feels really good.”

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Holbrook knows that Berry is capable of playing that well any night and Holbrook is glad Berry stepped up when it counted most.

“She knows what it takes to win when the game is on the line and she proved that (Friday),” Holbrook said. “It was a lot of fun to watch.”

Leading by six in the final two minutes, it was up to Jones to be clutch from the free-throw line. They went 5-of-6 in that span to clinch the win.

“At this time of the year, it’s the little things,” Holbrook said. “Free throws are something we work on, and it paid off (Friday).”

Jones got out to a 23-15 lead in the first quarter, thanks in large part to a 16-0 run that was anchored by two 3's from Berry. The Lady Longhorns went on to take a 35-23 lead into halftime.

To go along with Megehee’s 29 points, Parker Stevenson had 13 for Bethel. The Lady Wildcats finish their season 25-4.

Sofi Woodson and Kasia Hanson were also in double figures for Jones.