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By Glen Miller
SHAWNEE – El Reno High School’s girls basketball team did not put its best foot forward in the Region 1 championship – but at least the Indians are still walking in the Class 5A playoffs.
Ranked No.20 in the final regular season poll, El Reno dropped a 52-23 contest to No.1 Shawnee in the regional final – snapping a three-game winning streak. However, it was the first loss in the double elimination bracket for EHS, which slips into the area consolation bracket.
El Reno, now 9-14 on the season, needs to win two games in order to earn a ticket to Tulsa for the state tourney. The Indians will play No.10 Lawton MacArthur Thursday at Edmond Memorial, with tip-off set for 6:30 p.m.
The winner of that game plays the loser of the Carl Albert/Deer Creek game on Friday at Edmond North, with tip-off again at 6:30 p.m.
“We achieved our goal and made it to the next step and have made it to area and are two games away from the state tournament. I would rather have to win one more and have two games to do it like Shawnee gets now, but I like where we sit and who we’ll have to go up against to get there.
“Anything can happen now. We have to play with a sense of urgency like we did to finish off the regular season and the first game of playoffs. I believe we can advance, but ultimately, the girls have to believe, go perform and execute on the court and want it worse than the other team,” said EHS head coach Renie Whittern.
El Reno had a horrible shooting game against Shawnee, hitting 7-of-39 from the field (17.9 percent), which included a 2-of-10 effort (20 percent) from the 3-point line. Seven of the 23 points came at the free-throw line off 70 percent shooting.
The Indians were on the short end in rebounds (33-17), assists (6-2), steals (9-4) and points in the paint. El Reno did hold a 21-3 edge in bench scoring and an untimely 20-12 lead in turnovers.
“We just didn’t show up today against Shawnee. They out-hustled us to loose balls and rebounds, something that hasn’t happened the last three games we have won. We just didn’t have that urgency like we had against McGuinness,” said Whittern.
Taleigh Davis led El Reno with a line of 13 points, three rebounds and a steal. Jaedin Veales followed with six points and four boards, while Alaney Karty had two points, two boards, a steal and a carom.
Sheridan Gray was held to two points, a rebound and a steal. Sierra Bellymule grabbed two rebounds, while Regan Owen had two blocks, a steal and a rebound.
El Reno 57, Bishop McGuinness 39
The Indians downed the 19th-ranked Irish behind a 15-of-25 (60 percent) shooting effort, while converting 21-of-31 free throws for 67.7 percent. El Reno did hit six 3-pointers in the game.
Davis and Jentri Thompson had a trey each in the first period as EHS took a 13-3 lead. El Reno made only four baskets in the second period, including a Thompson trey (5:10), but hit 10-of-12 free throws. Thompson led the way with four bonus shots, while Owen and Allora Bellymule had two each. Gray and Davis added one each.
El Reno led 32-10 at the break.
McGuinness cut the lead to 18 in the third period with a 7-0 run, but EHS answered back with 3-pointers each from Gray and Karty. Thompson tacked on two free throws and Karty a pair as the Indians led 46-24 after three periods.
The Irish would get no closer than 16 points in the fourth period.
Thompson had a team-high 13 points to go along with four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Davis followed with 11 points and a steal, while Owen had 10 points, four boards, a block and an assist.
Gray added eight points and three caroms, while Karty closed with seven points and six boards.
Allora Bellymule chipped in six points and six rebounds to go along with two points and a rebound from Veales.