ADA — After spending most of their first-round game Thursday in the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic chasing Preston up and down the floor at the Kerr Activities Center, the Kiowa Cowgirls did a little running of their own Friday against another of the top teams in Class A.

Kiowa, ranked No. 1 in Class B, used a running game that never got started against Preston (No. 1 in Class A) a day earlier to open a double-digit lead in the first half Friday against fourth-ranked Okarche, then the Cowgirls held off a furious late rally by the Lady Warriors to escape with a 51-46 victory.

With the win, Kiowa advanced to Saturday’s consolation championship against Coalgate, which rallied to beat Class A No. 2 Howe in Friday’s opener. Okarche, meanwhile, faced Howe Saturday in one of the most high-profile seventh-place contests in the tournament’s 31-year history.

Kiowa (13-1) led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter and by 13 (44-31) after a driving layup by Andrea Smith off a feed from point guard Katy Clift with just 5:05 to play.

Smith’s basket was the last field goal of the game for Kiowa, however, and a 3-pointer 34 seconds later by Brittany Pfaff launched Okarche on a 13-2 run over the next three minutes. Maria Baca’s conventional 3-point play with 4:16 left trimmed the Kiowa lead to single digits at 46-37, Katie Beebe’s 3-pointer 28 seconds later made it a six-point game, and back-to-back buckets by Macy Kunneman — the first a putback of an offensive rebound and the second a fast-break layup — after Kiowa missed the front ends of back-to-back one-and-one opportunites made it 46-44 with 2:10 still showing on the clock.

Smith ended the Kiowa drought from the free throw line with a pair of charity shots 13 seconds after Kunneman’s second lay-up, and Kyla Adams converted 1-of-2 with 1:18 remaining to extend the lead back to five.

Baca’s putback of an offensive rebound 15 seconds later made it a 3-point game again, and a held ball with 54 seconds left gave Okarche possession again. But the Lady Warriors missed a golden opportunity to trim the Kiowa lead to one when Adams hustled over to block Kunneman’s wide open attempt at a lay-up, and Clift sank two game-clinching free throws with 25.5 seconds remaining.       

The Lady Warriors took their last lead of the afternoon at 13-11 on a 3-pointer by Macy Kunneman to make it 13-11 with 1:11 left in the opening quarter, then Kiowa used its defense and running game to score 13 straight points.

Smith started the spurt with a long jumper to cap a three-shot possession and tie the score with 48 seconds remaining in  the period, then point guard Katy Clift was fouled on a wild 3-point attempt and hit two of three free throws with 2.7 seconds left to give the Cowgirls the lead for good.

Adams continued the Kiowa run early in the second quarter, grabbing a steal and hitting a layup at the other end to make it 17-13, then she put the exclamation point on three fast-break opportunities in a 94-second span – the last of those a layup to make it it 24-13 with 3:10 left in the half.

Okarche answered with a 7-1 run of its own over the next 1:23 featuring bookend 3-pointers by Brittany Pfaff and Beebe to trim the Kiowa lead to 25-20, then  Smith hit a pair of late free throws to send the Cowgirls to the locker room with a 27-20 lead.

Clift followed her 17-point effort against Preston with a game-high 22 points, including a 4-of-7 slate from 3-point range. She also had eight rebounds to lead Kiowa to a 34-32 edge on the boards.

Smith (14 points, nine rebounds) and Adams (12 points, five rebounds, four assists) teamed with Clift to score all but three of Kiowa’s points, while Beebe and Pfaff had 11 points each to lead Okarche.

This Week's Circulars