HARRAH — Playing young in big moments has been a problem for Southmoore all season. In each of its losses, the contests came down to not being able to handle the pressure when it counted most. That included a painful loss to Edmond Memorial in the regional championship game last week.
But in their biggest game of the season, the SaberCats may have just grown up as they defeated Putnam City 57-48 Saturday in the area consolation championship at Harrah High. The victory propelled Southmoore (22-5) into the state tournament and proved to their coach they are ready to make a deep run.
“We played frazzled last week,” Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said. “Kind of timid and scared. We didn’t do that this week. I don’t think we are going to do that ever again.”
With 3:15 left in the game, senior Kayla Tucker fouled out with her SaberCats leading 49-42. They had relied on her throughout the year to come up with big shots and plays, but she wouldn’t be there for the team’s most crucial stretch.
Instead, Southmoore went to its bread and butter and put the ball in the hands of sophomore Serithia Hawkins. She came up with consecutive baskets in the paint to put Southmoore up by 10. Then senior Kyra Gilbert hit a pair of free throws to knock the steam out of the Pirates.
“The key was to keep going up strong and keep scoring,” Hawkins said. “The team handled the pressure very well. We all did. We went up strong.”
Hawkins led all scorers with 22 points as she beat up Putnam City’s front line. Gilbert added 16 and Tucker chipped in with 12.
“I knew as soon as I fouled out, I knew the seniors and the players on the court would finish out the game,” Tucker said. “I was really confident in them knowing they could finish out the game because they have before.”