MOORE – An impressive start and competitive finish to the first half fizzled in the second half as Bixby’s Lady Spartans saw their season end in a 54-32 loss to No. 13 Mustang in the Class 6A Regional Tournament opener in Moore High’s gymnasium here last Thursday night.
Bixby, ranked 18th in Class 6A, ends the season at 12-12. In the other regional game, Moore trounced Muskogee, 61-29. Moore defeated Mustang, 49-34, last Saturday to capture the regional title.
Bixby was clicking on all cylinders at the start, racing to an 11-3 first quarter lead at the 5:10 mark after four points by Sydnee Schovanec, three by Dariann Myles and two each from Sydney Page and Savanna Stout.
Foul problems began appearing when Schovanec picked up her second foul with 2:13 left in the opening stanza. Mustang caught fire with 3:59 left, scoring 12 consecutive points to lead by 15-14 after one quarter. A last-second three-pointer by Myles got Bixby within one.
Four points from Schovanec, who was whistled for her third foul with 7:12 left in the first half, gave Bixby a 18-17 second quarter lead but the Lady Broncos went on a 10-0 run for a 27-18 lead before Bradley drained a trey to trim the deficit to 27-21 at intermission.
Mustang seized control in the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run to build up a 34-21 lead. A drive to the hoop by Stout with 2:54 showing were the only points Bixby scored as the Lady Spartans trailed 37-23 entering the fourth quarter.
Five quick points by Mustang increased the lead to 42-23, a lead insurmountable for the disappointed Lady Spartans.
“The girls played hard they just had a hard time scoring in the third quarter. I thought they were getting shots but that’s the way it goes,” Lady Spartan head coach Tina Thomas said. “We played really well at the start but then had foul difficulties.
“They are a really good, very solid team but we knew that going in. They have a really strong inside player and all their guards can shoot. When I scouted them, they had six girls that could make the three consistently including girls off the bench. They were a better team than we were tonight, they executed and made their shots.”
Schovanec ended her career at Bixby by leading the Lady Spartans in scoring with 13 points. Myles ended with six, Bradley with five, Stout with four, Page with two and Avery King with two.
Freshman Talia Pogi topped the balanced Mustang attack with 15 points, followed by senior center CuTiera Haywood with 13 points while freshman Kate Niehues contributed 12 points off the bench.
Mustang advances to a Class 6A Area Tournament losers’ bracket matchup with Shawnee while Moore plays Sand Springs in a winners’ bracket battle this week.
Bixby will miss four senior starters – Schovanec, Myles, Page and Stout – while Bradley, a junior, will be the lone returning starter next season. The Lady Spartans, however, have underclassmen who gained experienced this season and newcomers with varsity potential.
“It’s hard for me losing the four seniors. Most of the them have been with me since eighth grade. They have turned into beautiful young women and they went down competing tonight,” Coach Thomas said. “We did not play well but we competed well. Anytime they do that I can live with it.
“We have Kate and others who gained varsity experience returning. Kate’s competitiveness showed tonight because she never backed down. Avery played a lot this year and improved by leaps and bounds. In addition, Ashley (Moriarity) and Janiyah (Hendricks) got valuable time on the floor. That’s something we can build on,” Coach Thomas added.
“We’ve got a lot of young ones that are really developing, and we have a really strong eighth grade team coming up.”