Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
POND CREEK, Okla. —
It was the third quarter, and Jade Jones was done for the night.
The high-scoring senior already had poured in 27 points - 17 in the first quarter alone - and the Pond Creek-Hunter Lady Panthers were up 50 when their starters were given the rest of the final evening in January off.
Another night, another game and another big outing for Jones in another big win. But at this point, it’s all pretty much prologue.
Save for a season-ending injury to freshman Tyra Peck, the fourth-ranked, 21-0 Lady Panthers seem primed to finally make a healthy appearance in the Class A state bracket after two seasons of disappointing finishes; PC-Hunter’s also-undefeated 2012 squad lost its only two games in the area round to fall short of the state tournament, and the Lady Panthers made the final bracket last season, but Jones was held to nine points playing on a torn ACL in her left knee in a 51-41 loss to Cheyenne/Reydon.
Now, that knee’s fine, save for a brace and some soreness, and Pond Creek-Hunter has breezed through its schedule with Terminator-esque effectiveness.
“Last year, they really didn’t get to see how good we really were, and I just think this year is kind of our year,” said Jones, who averages almost 21 points a night despite rarely playing three quarters.
The Lady Panthers - the only undefeated team in Class A and one of only five in all seven girls classes in the state - have thrashed their way to a 38.4-point average margin of victory, winning by as much as 82 points (98-16 over Aline Cleo on Jan. 9) and only once being played within single digits (40-32 against Deer Creek-Lamont on Dec. 12).
And here’s where that might be a problem: With the postponement and eventual cancellation of games against Lomega, Class B’s third-ranked team, and Class A No. 18 Glencoe, the Lady Panthers’ first actual test may not come until the postseason.
So, pass the test on the first try or, potentially, be done with basketball.
By all accounts, that shouldn’t be a problem.
“We talk about how we need to make every game count,” said sophomore Tiarra Davis. “We’re ready. It’s gonna be different, but we’re ready for it to get, like, more intense.”
PC-Hunter already has a trip to the area round secured, getting a bye for the opening round of districts. The Lady Panthers’ first postseason game of 2014 will come Saturday in Pond Creek, against the winner of a Kremlin-Hillsdale/Garber district matchup on Friday. PC-Hunter beat Kremlin Hillsdale by 24 on Jan. 10 and Garber by 29 on Jan. 28.