The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 12, 2013

Pacers KO Lady Buffs to reach finals

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Enid led from start to finish, including scoring the game’s first 13 points, in cruising to an easy 49-28 win over McAlester in the large school girls basketball semifinal at the Muskogee Shrine Tournament on Friday night, to advance to tonight’s championship.

Enid plays No. 8-ranked Muskogee, which defeated Hilldale in Friday’s other semifinal, in the championship at 7:30 tonight. Enid News & Eagle will text the final score. To learn more, go HERE for information. The game can be heard on KGWA (960 AM).

Courtney Chelf, who came into the game averaging a team-leading 15.8 points per game, had a team-high 13 points after scoring only three points in the first half. She was joined in double-digit scoring by Grace Enmeier and Abby Lee, who each had 10 points. Haven Bay and Andi Pierce rounded out the well-balanced effort with 8 points apiece.

Pacers head coach Robb Mills partially attributed the performance to a strong practice effort.

“The girls went to work in practice and internalized what we told them and performed real well,” Mills said.

 That may be an understatement.

The Pacers stormed out of the gate, opening up a 13-0 lead before the Lady Buffaloes finally got on the board with 30 seconds left in the first quarter on a pair of free throws from Kaleisha Johnson. Five Pacers scored in the opening period, led by Pierce’s five points as Enid ended the first period with a 14-2 lead.

Enid led 25-13 at halftime behind Enmeier’s eight points.

The Pacers began the second half on an 8-0 run, building a 20-point lead at 33-13 halfway through the third period.

The Pacers used a similar formula to start the second half as they did in the first, limiting McAlester’s chances and keeping the Lady Buffs off the offensive glass. Enid dominated at both ends, consistently able to come up with its own rebound and converting on its second-chance opportunities.

“We’ve been dominating on the boards all year,” Mills said. “We had a few lulls in blocking out, but I really can’t say anything negative about our performance tonight.”

Mills said the Pacers gave special attention to McAlester leading scorer Johnson, who came into the game averaging 24 points per game, but finished with 13 points, and to three-point specialist Meredith Saunier who drained only one trey late in the game and finished with seven points.

“Our girls shut down their top players,” Mills said.

“Haven Bay did a really good job defending (Johnson) and we used both Courtney Chelf and Andi Pierce on  (Saunier),” Mills said. “Everybody did their job. We told them ‘don’t leave them.’ and that’s what they did all night.”

While McAlester was having trouble scoring, the Pacers were distributing their scoring among all of their starters.

Chelf, who came into the game averaging a team-leading 15.8 points per game, had a team-high 13 points after scoring only three points in the first half. She was joined in double-digit scoring by Enmeier and Abby Lee who each had 10 points. Haven Bay and Pierce rounded out the well-balanced effort with 8 points apiece.

The win was 9th-ranked Enid’s seventh-straight victory and raised its record to 9-1. McAlester, ranked 16th in 5A, fell to 5-6 with the loss.

“We’re in a good place right now,” said Mills. “But we have to continue to work.”

Enid plays host Muskogee, which defeated Hilldale in Friday’s other semifinal, in the championship at 7:30 tonight. The game can be heard on KGWA (960 AM).