Tournament basketball brought out the best in both teams on Saturday’s match-up between the Navajo Lady Indians and the Canute Troajanettes. The two teams stayed right on top of each other until the last four seconds of this barn-burner. The Lady Indians came out on top, advancing to the winner’s bracket in the OSSAA Regional Tournament to be held Thursday, Feb. 18.
Navajo jumped out to an early lead spurred by good ball movement in the paint. Canute woke up mid-quarter, however, and began to challenge the Lady Indians with offensive put-backs and their outside shooting game. The Lady Indians then upped the tempo of the game, earning points off of missed shots and turnovers by the Trojanettes. Canute matched Navajo’s tempo and a well-balanced quarter for both teams ended with a one-point advantage for Canute, 11-10.
The second quarter opened up with senior Kaitlin Farni attempting to spark a Canute take-over of the game, scoring on a rebound and coast-to-coast layup to kick off the period. The Lady Indians were not phased by the play, and after trailing by one basket for most of the second, Navajo capitalized on a mismatch in the post to tie up the score. The score stayed even until Baylee Frederick for Canute hit a three-pointer to take a 23-20 lead into half time.
The first half of the third quarter saw the Lady Indians get seven fouls in four minutes of play. Navajo began trailing the hometown Trojanettes. The teams started the quarter trading three-pointers with little play happening around the basket, but Navajo began to dig in and fight their way out of the slump in the latter half of the period, closing the deficit to 34-33.
The fourth quarter began with the exit of sophomore Gracee Bates after her fifth foul 42 seconds into the period. Canute commenced to bring full-court pressure, and the resulting tough play took both teams into the bonus with 5:30 left in the game. After missing several open looks under the bucket, Baylee Frederick of Canute tied up the game on an and-one play with 4:23 left, bringing the score to 41-41. In the last half of the quarter, Canute began to see foul trouble of their own, leading to four points on free throws from junior Cambrie Thornton of Navajo. After two additional free throw points, the lead with three minutes remaining was 47-41.
As the Lady Indians started to pull away from the Trojanettes to secure the lead, Canute found one final spark,. After two crucial and-one plays from Canute’s Gillian Snowder and Baylee Frederick, the score was 53-51. Navajo missed free throws to extend the lead to a secure four points, but nonetheless held the lead with just under four seconds to play. The Trojanettes advanced the ball to just over the half-court line after the missed free throws, and were poised to score a quick three-point jumper to win the game. The ball was inbounded to senior Kaitlin Farni of Canute who missed an open look from the corner. A failed put-back attempt by freshman Leann Thompson of Canute sealed the victory and the OSSAA District Championship for the Navajo Lady Indians.
Navajo scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, the same total as their entire first half combined. Most of these points came from free throws. Senior Analea Cobb and Sophomore Emmy Cobb were outstanding from the stripe, hitting 10/11 and 7/10 respectively. On the whole, the Lady Indians capitalized well on Canute’s low shooting percentage and 19 turnovers to take the win.
After the game, Coach David Doss said, “It was good – it was a good win for the girls – a confidence builder. We just stuck with the game plan. Defensively we got enough stops to win the game.” When asked about what he saw in the playoff future of his team, Doss replied, “Every game’s going to be a tough team – we just have to keep playing hard and see where it goes.” Considering that the OSSAA Regional Tournament will be held close to home in Lawton, and the ensuing Area Tournament will be held in Cache, Doss said, “We get a little closer [to home] every week, and that’s a good thing.”
Don’t miss the Lady Indians in OSSAA Regional Tournament action at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 S. Sheridan in Lawton.
Reach Daniel Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org