STONEWALL — If nothing else, the 2005-2006 Stonewall Lady Longhorns took young head coach Christie Jennings on a wild ride.

In chronological order, the Lady Longhorns:

• Won both the Pontotoc Conference and S.T.A.R. Tournament championships

• Handed the Coalgate Lady Wildcats, who were riding a 16-game winning streak at the time and were one of the best teams in Class 2A, their only loss of the regular season.

• Had one of the most memorable Class A Area Tournament runs in small school basketball playoff history — a run that included back-to-back-to-back overtime victories over Navajo, Okarche and Thomas.

• Manhandled Crowder in the first round of the Class A State Tournament.

• Pushed eventual champion Depew — led by senior stud Rose Hammond — to the limit and played the Lady Hornets closer than anyone before falling 41-38 in an exciting state tournament semifinal contest.

The Lady Longhorns ended their amazing season at 29-3.

“It probably exceeded my expectations,” the 2006 Ada Evening News Girls Coach of the Year said. “I really felt like we were good enough to get to the state tournament when we started, but we improved so much from the beginning to the end.”

Stonewall appeared to be playing its best basketball of the season at the right time. And if a shot or two falls against Depew that didn’t...

“I felt like by the time we got to the state tournament we were really starting to peak,” Jennings said. “We would have liked to have another chance at (Depew).”

The semifinal setback left most of the Lady Longhorns with a sick feeling. While they played a good game, they realized just how close they came to a shot at the state title.

“We weren’t satisfied with our final game. I thought we played hard and played with a lot of heart. But we know we didn’t play as well as we could have,” Jennings said. “It definitely left us hungry. I hope that carries over to the next season.”

Jennings said one of the main reasons for Stonewall’s success was the play of its defense, which limited foes to just 33.7 points per game.

“Our defense was the key all year. I put in a couple of new defenses and played around with some things I had never done before and they just excelled in it. We were switching defenses every other possession,” she explained.

And although the SHS offense didn’t have a 20-point per game scorer (or for that matter a 15-ppg scorer), the Lady Longhorns could put points on the scoreboard when needed.

“The best thing about our offense was that you never really knew who was going to step up,” Jennings said. “You never knew who was going to be the star on any given night. That was the thing about my group of kids. You really can’t go pick a great player out. We had four that averaged in double figures and two more that could get hot on you at any time.”

The great news is that Stonewall loses just two players to graduation — starter Tobie Daniel and fun reserve Terra Christian. The rest of the team is back for another run in 2006-07.

“It’s going to be hard to let Tobie and Terra go. They were there when I started this, and we wanted to see the culmination of it turn into a state championship and we missed it by a couple of games,” Jennings said. “They’re definitely going to be missed.”

Daniel’s defining moment came in the closing seconds of the Lady Longhorns area tournament loser’s bracket game against Navajo. With time running out, Daniel sank a 3-pointer that tied the score and sent the game into overtime — or as “Mean Green” supporters like to say “Stonewall’s Time.”

“That shot against Navajo was kinda of the culmination of her season. As far as basketball goes, I told her she reached her potential that night with that shot. The rest of us had kinda quit and she refused to. It was her senior season, and she wanted the ball in her hands,” Jennings said.

The play wasn’t even drawn up for Daniel. But when she saw the opening, she took it — from about 18 inches beyond the 3-point arc.

“We had a set play called, and I think Tesia Worcester was actually supposed to shoot the basketball and it kind of fell through,” Jennings recalled. “Tobie got the ball with about three seconds left and she shot it and it was nothing but net. It was a great experience for her.”

Christian provided motivation from the bench when she wasn’t on the court.

“Terra gave us some big-time spirit on the bench. She was always there. She didn’t get a lot of playing time, but that didn’t stop her from encouraging everybody,” Jennings said.

Jennings and company have set the bar high heading into this summer’s workout schedule. The Lady Longhorns want to be playing on the final day of the season and hoisting up a gold-colored ball after the final buzzer sounds.

“That is our only goal next year. We started this year with our goal being to make it to the state tournament, and we achieved that,” she said. “I’ve already started pushing it into their heads right now. Next year, our only go is to win it all. And we will not be satisfied unless we do.”

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