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Sand Springs girls defeat Owasso on game-winning layup in matchup of two emerging 6A contenders

Owasso boys remain dominant in District 6A-3 with resounding road win

SAND SPRINGS, OKLAHOMA - Kauri Wilson and Yanni Morris were ready for the moment. 

Sand Springs' sensational senior backcourt combined on Friday night's biggest play, after Owasso's Makenna Yokley had tied the two teams' game with seconds to play on a tough driving basket. The Sandites wasted no time.

Wilson took a quick inbounds pass, flew up the court on the dribble, saw Morris on her right and rocketed a perfect bounce pass between defenders from some 30 feet out from the basket as Morris cut to the hoop. Morris caught it and finished with the smooth layup.

Crowd goes wild. Buzzer goes off. Ballgame.

Sand Springs 40, Owasso 38.

"You know what, if we call a time out there, I feel like we let them set up, and I think we've got the speed advantage," said Sand Springs coach Josh Berry. "And so I just trusted our senior guards to get out there; I told them to run, if they score let's get back and go to the other side.

"And they did exactly what we asked."

It's the latest chapter for two teams that are making a move as challengers in a Class 6A girls basketball race that is loaded with tough contenders. From the strong contingent in Edmond and central Oklahoma to state tournament qualifiers like Broken Arrow and Bixby in the east, the battle is filled with teams looking for the coveted final destination - the floor at the University of Oklahoma for the final rush after a gold ball.

These two challengers from the Tulsa area both are making big strides toward the goal. From being on the fringes of the top level last year but both ultimately falling short of the trip to Norman, Owasso and Sand Springs have introduced themselves as real players this season.

The Lady Rams have been on a big climb, improving from an 11-15 record two years ago to 13-12 last year and now a substantial jump, having already matched last year's win total. They've been atop the District 6A-3 standings most of the year, an effort that includes two prior wins against the Sandites, one in the championship game of the Bishop Kelley Tournament.

They're doing it with a balanced roster, many of whom have multiple seasons of significant varsity experience. Yokley plays in the post but has confidence handling the ball all over the floor and, as Friday showed, has no fear of taking the big shot. Guards Seldon Stover and Alex McGarrah bring confident veteran presences that have been through many pressure situations for the Rams.

Oklahoma high school girls basketball Top 25 rankings (1/24/2024)

Amarion Tease, Kynlie Wilson, Sarah Yokley and freshman Madilyn Hill are steady performers on both ends of the floor. And the Rams have a junior star in Jayelle Austin, who is more noted for her softball prowess, where she's already committed to continue her career at Oklahoma State. But she also is an athletic presence on the basketball court, particularly on the defensive end.

As for the Lady Sandites, they served notice from night one this season, when they knocked off Edmond Memorial, a 6A state semifinalist a year ago, in the season's first game. They repeated that feat last week by defeating the Lady Bulldogs before taking down Class 5A power Midwest City Carl Albert to win the Titans' own tournament title.

While the Sandites did post an 18-9 overall record last season, a loss to Tulsa Booker T. Washington one game short of the state tournament left a bitter taste.

"It's motivated us a lot," Morris said. "I feel like the team that I've played with for four years has been able to get us where we need to be, and I just feel like this is really our year."

Sand Springs' Yanni Morris

Sand Springs' Yanni Morris

While there are veterans like Morris and Wilson who have a ton of experience, Sand Springs also has quite a different look this year. They've already had to weather the loss of one of their key seniors, forward Kiaryn Taylor, to an early-season knee injury.

The Sandites start a pair of impressive freshmen in Tianna Butler and Aaliyah Simone, who led her squad with 10 points against Owasso. And they recently added transfer Hope Bump, who had to sit out the early part of the season after coming over from Claremore, where she led the Lady Zebras in scoring last year.

"It felt good to be out there with them tonight," Bump said of her new team. "It's different, definitely from 5A to 6A basketball it's faster, quicker, but I love it here."

"I think every night is a new deal," Berry said. "We've got a new team right now from what we had even two weeks ago, and we have a new team from what we had at the beginning of the year with the injuries and everything we've had to deal with. So we just try to tell everybody to keep playing hard and trust each other."

And on this night, it paid off in a crucial victory that now leaves the Rams, Sandites and Edmond Memorial separated by just 1 1/2 games in the District 6A-3 standings.

"Exciting game, gritty game, tough game. We needed a win like that against a tough team, just keep playing and keep battling and finally some good things happened for us," Berry said.


Owasso 61, Sand Springs 43

In Friday's boys game, Sand Springs made it clear they were going to try to make things tough for Owasso's star sophomore, Jalen Montonati. And it worked for quite a while, with Montonati not scoring for more than 11 minutes in the game.

But his teammates picked up the slack to keep the Rams up most of the first half, anyway. And once he got rolling, things got tough for the Sandites.

Montonati, a top recruit in the class of 2026, finished with 20 points, while 6-10 junior center Jax Kerr had 16, and the Rams scored a 61-43 victory to maintain first place in the District 6A-3 race.

Oklahoma high school boys basketball Top 25 rankings (1/24/2024)

The Rams, a Class 6A state semifinalist a year ago, stand at 15-2 overall and 8-0 in the district. Looming is a big showdown game with second-place Tulsa Union on Feb. 2.

Sand Springs' boys have shown gains this year also, having already won 10 games after only winning 10 all of last season. They're led nightly by the play of junior guard Deke Thompson, a 6-4 guard who is proving to be a player to watch in the Class of 2025.

Despite his team falling Friday, Thompson showed out against Owasso with a game-high 28 points.

Photo of Sand Springs' Kauri Wilson (2) by Michael Kinney

-- Christian Potts | @SBLiveOK