CHICKASHA – Lizzy Simpson tallied 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, and Emrie Ellis collected 14 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double as the ninth-ranked Vanoss Lady Wolves clipped eighth-ranked Navajo 61-44 Saturday night to win the consolation title of a Class 2A area tournament.

Vanoss — which has started four freshmen (and sometimes five) — improved to 25-6 on the year and advanced to the Class 2A State Tournament.

“These girls aren’t only surprising other teams; they continue to surprise me too. They just have a will to win and could care less who gets the credit,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt. “I think the biggest thing is they are very coachable. There aren’t many freshmen who could handle getting pushed daily like they do, and that’s been a big reason for our success.”

The Lady Wolves will meet No. 2 Cashion in a first-round matchup at 7 p.m. Thursday in the State Fair Arena. The Lady Indians are done at 24-5.

The Lady Wildcats, who finished as runners-up in the 2017 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, enter the state tournament with a 26-2 record and are riding a 13-game win streak. Cashion’s only losses were to Class 4A No. 1 Harrah in the Mid-America title game and Class A state champion Seiling.

Cashion is led by senior guard Sydney Manning, the daughter of head coach Totsy Manning.

“I think I have one of the best defenders in the state on the perimeter with Caitlyn Byrd. She will have to contain the Manning girl and make her take tough shots,” Hurt said. “Emire Ellis will have a big matchup inside with one of the best post players in 2A. If we can limit turnovers and contain Manning, we will have a chance.”

Ellis not only went for a double-double in points and rebounds, but she also totaled seven blocked shots on the night.

Two other players scored in double digits for the Lady Wolves, as Rileigh Rush finished with 13 while Laramie Doffin ended up with 10. Rush canned three 3-point shots, and Doffin sank two. Caitlyn Byrd nailed one trey in finishing with five points, and Abbi Snow chipped in a free throw in rounding out the Vanoss scoring.

Vanoss overwhelmed the Lady Indians to start the game, racing to leads of 14-0 and 21-5.

Navajo bounced back, using an 11-2 run to end the second quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Tabitha Armstrong with 12 seconds left, to trim its deficit to 23-16 at halftime.

“I think we got too confident too early and didn’t realize why we were being successful. I think we realized we were the better team. We just needed to play our game and not theirs,” Hurt said.

The Lady Indians closed the gap to 30-24 halfway through the third quarter.

Vanoss carried a 43-33 lead into the fourth quarter.

Caitlyn Byrd hit two free shots with three minutes to play, and the VHS lead ballooned to 54-40.

The Lady Wolves coasted to the victory from there.

Emmy Cobb led Navajo with 12 points, Gracee Bates followed with 11 and Gabby Kille totaled 10. Bates scored all of her points in the second half.

Vanoss was 21-of-35 from the free-throw line, while Navajo was 10-of-14.

Vanoss defeated Latta and Hollis before eliminating Navajo to earn a spot at state.

“That’s a testament to how tough these girls are. We played full-court man defense for 32 minutes every game. I think we were able to wear people down and frustrate the opposition with our style of play,” Hurt said.

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Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.