ADA — Mustang coach Nichole Copeland was hoping to see her undefeated team tested at some point during its three days at the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic. With two days left in Oklahoma’s most prestigious regular-season girls basketball tournament, Copeland is still waiting — but she might not have to wait long.
The Lady Broncos, the defending Class 6A and Mid-America champions and unbeaten (4-0) and, yes, untested so far this season, used twin towers Jordan Pyle and Lacy Ramon and a swarming defense to overpower Oklahoma Bible, 66-31, in Thursday’s opening round, and, with that victory, earned a semifinal showdown with fellow unbeaten Elgin (No. 6 in 4A) tonight at 6:30. OBA, meanwhile, will face Stonewall (which lost to Elgin, 52-35, Thursday) in a 3 p.m. loser’s bracket matinee.
Pyle and Ramon, a pair of 6-1 juniors who can bang inside or hit an outside shot when it’s called for, were too much for the Lady Trojans, who had a pair of 5-10 starters in seniors Bridget Shuck and Jaime Schafer but simply couldn’t match up with Mustang physically.
“We’re just too skinny to get in there and bang with them,” OBA coach Mark Shuck said after seeing his club (ranked No. 11 in Class 2A in preseason) fall to 4-5.
Mustang forced 14 turnovers (including steals by six different players) and held the Lady Trojans to just four shots (all misses) in the first nine minutes, and the Lady Broncos saw a 16-1 lead after one quarter balloon to 20-1 when Pyle hit a turnaround 15-footer and guard Kasey Tweed (Mustang’s only senior starter) got a steal and layup in the first 45 seconds of the second period.
Mustang led by as many as 21 points (after a putback of an offensive rebound by senior reserve Julie Lofland with three minutes left) in the quarter but settled for a 31-17 lead at intermission when — after Pyle hit nifty reverse layup off a beautiful pass from the high post by Ramon to make it 31-14 — Bethany Wilczek drained a 3-pointer (her only basket of the game) with 1:25 left in the half.
OBA still trailed by just 14 (35-21) when Kiley Woodard sank two free throws at the 6:36 mark, but the Lady Broncos scored 14 of the final 20 points in the quarterand took a 49-27 lead when Pyle hit a layup (off another Ramon assist) with 35 seconds left in the period.
Ramon, who finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, started the Mustang run with a putback of her own missed shot, and Pyle — who scored 14 of her game-high 21 points after intermission — added a putback of Ramon’s missed free throw to give the Lady Broncos a four-point trip down the floor and make it 39-21 with 6:08 left in the quarter.
Shuck hit a 16-footer to cut the Mustang lead to 16, but a Pyle steal (one of her four in the game) led to a Kaitlin Ellison layup at the other end, and Pyle hit the Lady Broncos’ next four buckets — all from close range — to extend the lead to 22 heading to the fourth quarter, and OBA never got closer.
Pyle was 10-for-18 from the field and added a game-high 13 rebounds to complete the Mid-America’s first double-double of 2006, and she also had four assists and two blocked shots. Ramon, who averaged in double figures as a reserve in Mustang’s Mid-America appearances the last two years (the Lady Broncos were fourth in 2004), scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half and finished 7-of-17 from the field.
The Mustang backcourt, a key to the Lady Broncos’ Mid-America title last year, was solid again Thursday, with starters Ellison, Tweed and Autumn Foley combining for 17 points (eight by Ellison, who hit two of Mustang’s three 3-pointers), 10 rebounds (six by Foley), 10 assists (five by Tweed) and seven steals (three each by Tweed and Foley). Mustang’s guards also keyed a defensive effort that limited the Lady Trojans to 11-for-32 shooting (in contrast, the Lady Broncos took 72 shots and hit 30) and also helped their team to a decisive 41-24 advantage on the boards.
Jordan Williams led OBA with 12 points and six rebounds but also committed nine turnovers against the rugged Mustang defense, and Woodard (seven points) and Shuck (six) were the only other Lady Trojans with more than three points in the loss.