“She has been amazing all year,” Kannady-Sayes said. “Everything she’s had to go through has made her the strong player and person that she is. As a coach, I couldn’t be more happy and it couldn’t come to a better person and player than Kayla.”
However, this has been far from a one-woman wrecking crew. The SaberCats have a balanced inside-out attack that is keyed upon the play of sophomores Kyeria Hannah and Serithia Hawkins. While both 6-foot-1 sophomores have cleaned up on the backboards, Hawkins has been particularly effective as a scoring threat. That included posting 22 points in Saturday’s area tournament.
“She just keeps fighting,” Kannady-Sayes said. “She is getting hammered every time. She is getting double- and triple-teamed. Just stay the course. She has done that and she’s fought. She is a heck of a ball player as a sophomore.”
Senior Kyra Gilbert and junior Cydni Campbell round out the starting five and have provided strong defense and timely shooting. Senior Bailey Olsen and freshman Jamia Sheppard come off the bench to provide Southmoore with a little depth and a change of pace.
“When the season started I knew we were going to be better than we have been in the past years,” Campbell said. “The new coaching staff and new attitudes with each other, I imagined that we would do really good but I never imagined we would have a chance at getting a ring.”
Southmoore will face Booker T. Washington in the quarterfinals of the 6A state tournament at 7 p.m. today at Skiatook High. It’s the farthest any girls team has gone in the short history of the program. But they are not settling for just making it to the big dance.
“It’s a Cinderella story,” Tucker said. “Nobody expected us to be here. It was full of surprises. We surprised ourselves in how we progressed so quickly this year. But I never would have expected it the way things were going my freshman year. Especially after my sophomore and junior year, I wouldn’t have expected us to be in this place.”
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