ALLEN — If nothing else, Thursday’s semifinal contests in the S.T.A.R. Tournament at Allen High School proved once again how wonderfully unpredictable girls’ high school basketball can be.

On a night when some of the area’s top scorers were in action, rebounding and free throws were the major factors in victories by Class A powers Stonewall and Strother — victories that set up an attractive championship showdown Saturday evening between the two highest-ranked girls teams in the tournament.

The seventh-ranked Lady Longhorns, who went a dismal 2-for-11 from the free throw line in Monday’s opening-round 61-11 romp past Moyers, drained an eye-catching 15-of-16 charity shots in Thursday’s first semifinal and improved to 18-1 on the season with a 45-37 win over a stubborn Tupelo squad.

In the nightcap, Allen star Kelsey Gee scored a game-high 21 points but missed the front end of three straight one-and-one opportunities in the fourth quarter, and 11th-ranked Strother converted 13 offensive rebounds into 11 points in a 42-39 victory over the 19th-ranked Lady Mustangs.

Stonewall and Strother will meet in Saturday’s title game at 6 p.m., while Tupelo and Allen will face off in the girls’ third-place contest at 5 p.m. today. Roff will meet Stonewall at 6:30 p.m. and Tupelo will face Allen at 8 p.m. this evening for the right to meet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the boys title game.

In Thursday’s girls consolation final, Roff’s Lady Tigers (who were beaten, 46-36, by Strother in an opening-round contest Tuesday) scored their second overtime victory in as many days and claimed the girls’ consolation crown with a 36-32 victory over the OKC Knights. Strother beat Caney, 49-46, in the boys’ consolation final.


Stonewall 45, Tupelo 37

Tupelo (12-7) tied the score at 28-all on Brittanie Williams’ third 3-pointer of the game with 2:10 left in the third quarter, then Stonewall scored nine straight points and 17 of the game’s final 26 (11 on free throws) and held the Lady Tigers’ Kendra Pearce without a fourth-quarter field goal attempt until the final seconds.

Rena Serpa — who led Stonewall with 12 points — converted one of the Lady Longhorns’ nine offensive rebounds into a 3-point play when she was fouled on the putback just 30 seconds after Williams’ trey, then sophomore guard Tesia Worcester rebounded her own miss and, while falling backwards, managed to pass to Felicia Logsdon for another layup at the 1:15 mark to give Stonewall a 33-28 lead heading to the final period.

Worcester, who was only 1-for-4 from the field after picking up two fouls in the game’s first four minutes, started the fourth quarter with four straight free throws (the last two coming after she was fouled following another offensive rebound) to make it 37-28, and Stonewall still led by nine at 41-32 after Worcester’s backcourt mate, sophomore Cherokee Brown, was fouled by Pearce following a steal and hit two more free throws with 4:11 left.

The Lady Tigers got a 3-pointer from Katie Campbell off a Pearce assist and a conventional 3-point play from Katelyn Roberts to trim the lead to 41-38 with 2:39 still to play, but Tupelo managed just three shots (all misses in the same trip down the floor) the rest of the way. Stonewall got a layup by Brown and two free throws from Logsdon down the stretch to finally put the Lady Tigers away.

“(Tupelo coach) Brian (Davis) had a great game plan,” second-year Stonewall coach Christie Jennings said after the game. “He found a way to slow us down and make us play at their speed.

“We just came out really flat,” she added. “We’re going to have to be more intense than that if we’re going to win Saturday.”

Tupelo dominated the first half and led 21-15 after a Williams trey with 2:50 left in the second quarter, but Tyla Transue and Kristie Byrd came off the bench to hit two of Stonewall’s three 3-pointers in the game in the final 2:25 to tie the score at intermission. Transue, a freshman member of Jennings’ Kiddie Corps, hit a trey from the top of the key (her only shot of the game) off a Brown assist at the 2:25 mark, then, after the Lady Longhorns turned the ball over twice and Tupelo missed four field goal attempts, Tobie Daniel (Stonewall’s only senior) found Byrd for another 3-pointer with two seconds left.

“Defensively, we played as well as we have all season,” Davis said. “But offensive rebounds and turnovers killed us, and they got a six-point swing at the end of the first half.”

Pearce, who had 20 points in Tupelo’s overtime win over the OKC Knights Tuesday, hit a driving layup for her final field goal of the game 1:25 into the third perid to put the Lady Tigers on top again, and, after a 3-point play by Logsdon, Tupelo took its final lead at 25-24 on Campbell’s jumper with five minutes left in the quarter.

Byrd answered with a 3-pointer 20 seconds later to put Stonewall up 27-24, and Tupelo managed just one field goal — Williams’ game-tying 3-pointer — in six attempts over the remainder of the period.

Stonewall hit just 13-of-34 field goal attempts but held Tupelo to 13 baskets in 38 tries and, although the Lady Longhorns outrebounded the Lady Tigers just 25-23, Stonewall converted its nine offensive rebounds into 17 points and hit 11 more free throws than Tupelo.

Logsdon hit three of her last four field goal attempts after starting 0-for-5 and finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four of Stonewall’s six steals, and Byrd came off the bench to score eight points. Worcester finished with six points and added six rebounds and three assists, and Brown had all five of her points in the second half and also grabbed two steals.

Campbell had a solid all-around game with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal, but Tupelo was just 6-for-19 from the field in the second half. Pearce (9 points) failed to score in double figures for only the second time this season but added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Strother 42, Allen 39

Allen (13-3) led 22-16 at halftime and still had a 34-31 advantage after Brittnea Nemecek hit a point-blank jumper — the result of one of only three offensive rebounds (two by Gee) the Lady Mustangs managed in the game — with 7:18 to play.

But Felesia Walker hit three free throws — the last two after she rebounded her own miss and was fouled — to ignite a 9-0 Strother run over the next six minutes that finally put Allen away. Strother managed just one field goal — a six-foot baseline jumper by April Wallace that put the Lady Jackets up, 36-34, with 3:58 to play — over that span, and Allen didn’t have a fourth-quarter field goal until Gee hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left to make it 41-39.

After Wallace’s basket gave Strother the lead for good, Gee had an opportunity to tie the game with 2:59 left but missed the front end of a one-and-one, and she had similar failures at the line with 1:28 left (and Allen down, 38-34) and with 48.7 seconds to play (and the Lady Mustangs trailing, 39-34).

“The game plan was there, and the effort was there, but our execution wasn’t what it needed to be at this time of the year,” Allen coach Greg Mills said after seeing his club shoot 48 percent from the field (12-for-26) to just 34 percent (12-for-35) for Strother and hit a solid 5-for-12 from 3-point range to just 3-for-14 for the Lady Jackets but also commit 17 turnovers and lose the rebounding battle, 24-17.

“They killed us on the boards,” Mills said. “We just collapsed in the fourth quarter. These girls didn’t do what they’re taught to do.”

Gee — who hit five of her eight field goal attempts (including 3-of-4 from the beyond the arc) and was 8-for-12 from the line — managed just one basket in the first half, but she was 7-for-8 from the line and gave the Lady Mustangs a six-point halftime lead when she hit two free throws just 7.5 seconds before intermission. Allen was 7-for-12 from the field in the first half and limited Strother to just six field goals in 20 tries.

Gee was the only Allen player in double figures and also had eight of her team’s 17 rebounds, but no other Lady Mustang had more than seven points. Jerrica Mullicane scored Allen’s first five points but had just two free throws the rest of the way, and Nemecek added six in the loss.

Walker (12 points, 12 reounds and two steals) and Wallace (12 points, three steals and two rebounds) were in double figures for Strother.


Roff 36, OKC Knights 32

Kayla Balthrop sent the game to overtime on a 3-pointer with 3:40 left in regulation, and Jessica Bacon gave the Lady Tigers the lead for good at 33-32 on another a 3-pointer off a Balthrop assist with 1:10 left in the extra period.

Megan Odom, who scored in double figures in the Lady Tigers’ first two tournament games, had four of her five points in overtime, including two free throws with 28.8 seconds left, as Roff scored the final six points to improve to 9-9 on the season.