Upsets of Biblical proportion in the championship game appear to be ancient history at the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.
Since Hydro-Eakly edged Dover in 2001 to claim the title in a field that included Jenks, Byng, Washington and Latta, David has routinely fallen to Goliath in the finale of Oklahoma’s oldest girls basketball tournament.
That trend continued Wednesday night, when the Mid-America’s latest Cinderella — Class A No. 2 Calumet — saw the clock strike midnight on its title run. This time, the heavyweight was Class 4A No. 1 and tournament top seed Cache, which shook off a sluggish first half and cruised to a 64-42 victory, the most lopsided in a championship game in the Mid-America’s 34-year history.
“We just picked up the intensity,” Cache coach Brett Sanders said after seeing his club outscore Calumet, 40-24, after the break. “We didn’t have much intensity in the first half.”
Tournament MVP Lindsey Carter scored five of her 10 points and grabbed all of her game-high four steals in a frenetic two-plus minutes to open the second half. Carter’s first steal led to her layup at the other end just 17 seconds into the third quarter, she turned her second steal into a second-chance 3-pointer 34 seconds later, and her fourth steal resulted in a layup by center Honor Duvall at the 5:24 mark to cap a three-shot Cache possession.
“Lindsey is just a pure shooter,” Sanders said of his 5-6 senior guard, who scored 41 points during a dominant championship run in which the Lady Bulldogs outscored their three opponents — Wellston, Bethel and Calumet — by a combined 222-123.
Early in the title game, though, Carter and Company found themselves in a dogfight. They trailed (for the first time in the tournament) the upstart Lady Chieftains for a big chunk of the first quarter before tying the score at 10-10 on a long 3-pointer by Jennifer Rosado at the 1:21 mark.
Calumet (11-3) then reclaimed the lead with the help of what had to rank as the assist of the tournament. Senior Megan Snyder took a pass just across midcourt and whipped a strike to junior Katelyn Richardson, who was streaking down the right side of the court with a defender on her hip.
Richardson took Snyder’s pass in full stride and raced to the basket for a layup to make it 12-10 with 50 seconds left in the quarter, then Snyder answered a long jumper by Carter 14 seconds later with a 3-pointer off an assist from Richardson with 21 seconds left in the period to send the Lady Chieftains to the second quarter with a 15-12 lead.
Calumet went almost 12 minutes without another basket after Snyder’s trey, however, and Cache took advantage of the lull to take control of the game.
“In the second quarter, we got to shooting a little too quick,” Calumet coach Tyler Snowden. “We had no field goals, and we didn’t shoot free throws too well (the Lady Chieftains were 3-for-6 in the period and just 10-for-20 in the game).”
Cache (7-2) tied the score for the final time when point guard Bretlin Sanders — who finished with 14 points and joined Carter and Duvall on the all-tournament team — bounced in a long 3-pointer with 7:14 left in the half. Sanders added a pair of free throws at the 6:26 mark to push the Lady Bulldogs in front for good, and the lead grew to 19-15 just 21 seconds later, when Carter went coast-to-coast with a rebound and hit a runner at the other end.
Katelyn Martine converted a steal into a layup with 3:42 left to make it 21-15, and Cache led 24-17 after Rosado’s highlight-reel drive to the basket two and a half minutes later.
Calumet, meanwhile, didn’t score its first point in the quarter until Snyder hit a free throw at the 3:07 mark. In fact, the Lady Chieftains took just three shots and managed just three free throws over the final five minutes of the half, but they went to the locker room trailing by only six points after Emily Eaton — another member of the all-tournament team — hit the second of two charity shots with 45.7 seconds left.
After keeping the game at their speed through the first two quarters, though, the Lady Chieftains simply couldn’t handle Cache’s pressure at both ends of the floor after intermission.
“In the third quarter, we were just out of sync,” Snowden said. “I think (Cache) smelled blood and came after us. I told my girls before the game that it would take a super effort tonight, not physically but mentally. We lost our focus, and the third quarter changed the game.”
“It was just a good defensive effort,” Sanders noted. “I thought out defense created opportunities for our offense. We’ve got five girls who can score — although it didn’t look like it in the first half.”
Despite his club’s impressive run through the Mid-America field, Sanders said the Lady Bulldogs still have room for improvement before the playoffs begin.
“We still have to get a lot better,” he explained. “There are a lot of things we need to work on.
“Things went our way this week,” Sanders added. “I don’t think we’re that much better than some of the other teams in this tournament — it was just our night three days in a row.”
In addition to Bretlin Sanders’ 14 points and Carter’s 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals, Cache got a double-double (14 points, 16 rebounds) from Duvall and 10 points from Martine. As a team, Cache was a solid 26-for-62 from the field — including an impressive 17-for-31 in the second half — and held Calumet to 14 field goals in 44 attempts.
Snyder finished with 11 points to share team scoring honors with Richardson and also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds for the Lady Chieftains, who were outrebounded, 45-32, by the taller Lady Bulldogs.
MID-AMERICA NOTES: Joining Carter, Duvall and Sanders on the all-tournament team were Eaton and Miles from Calumet, Caitlyn Ramirez and Kelsee Grovey from consolation champion Shawnee, Lakota Beatty (the tournament’s top scorer with 75 points) from third-place Anadarko, Taylor Cooper from Bethel and Shelbi Skaggs from Cyril.