In early February, Southmoore’s fortunes took a drastic turn when star forward Serithia Hawkins chipped a bone in her elbow and had to miss 11 games. The team went into a tailspin and lost nine of the contests she sat out.
Hawkins returned right before the playoffs and it looked like the SaberCats were returning to early season form as they prepared to take on Midwest City in the area tournament and a state berth on the line.
But that all changed two minutes into the contest when Hawkins fought for a loose ball and fell on the same elbow. She ran off the court screaming in pain and would not return.
The Bombers won 55-51 at Yukon High to advance to the state tournament. The SaberCats season came to a sudden end.
“I think we gave our all with circumstances that were given to us,” senior Cyndi Campbell said. “I knew that my high school basketball career would come to an end, but I wanted it to end in state with my team. That’s what I’m upset about right now.”
Unlike when Hawkins was injured earlier in the year, the SaberCats didn’t fall apart right away. They found themselves still in the game deep into the fourth quarter.
With 4:30 left Kiera Hannah connected on a jumper to close deficit to 50-49. Momentum was on the SaberCats’ side and they looked like they were on the verge of pulling off the upset.
But Southmoore’s offense became frazzled after a pair of starters fouled out. That included guard Jamia Sheppard. Despite locking down the Bombers, the ’Cats scored only two points the rest of the game. It’s something coach Britney Kannady-Sayes knows may have been different if they had stayed at full strength.
“It’s tough,” Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said. “You go in there and cry with your kids. You tell them how proud you are of them. You pick them up off the floor. You take them home and they learn from it.”
Jasauen Beard led MWC with 13 points. Asia Davis added 9 and Kara Partridge scored 9
Hannah had a game-high 25 points. Sheppard scored 12 and Jones 10.
“We played great, Hannah said. “We came out and had a great game. One of our best games all season. We responded great to Serithia going down. The first time we responded horribly. Now, when she went down we were like we have to win this for her.”
Without the services of Hawkins, the SaberCats stayed in the game by outhustling the Bombers. Sheppard dove on the ground for loose balls, Campbell dug in on defense while Desha Page battled in the paint for rebounds.
Southmoore clawed back to within two after Alyssa Jones drained a 3-pointer with 1:44 left in the second quarter. They trailed 26-24 at halftime.
The SaberCats turned to Hannah in the second half, running the offense through her. Instead of relying on jumpers, the 6-foot post drove the ball to the rack and picked up fouls on the Bombers.
With 4:20 left in the third, the ’Cats took a 33-32 lead.
However, the Bombers responded with an 13-8 run and led 45-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Even though their rally fell short, the SaberCats believe they are set up for a deep run next season.
“It’s sets us up for next season real nice,” Hannah said. “Our mentality next year is going to be overall great. We’re going to get there next year. I promise that.”
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