The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 23, 2014

Lady Broncs have come a long way

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — How far Kremlin-Hillsdale’s girls basketball program has come this season could be put in perspective following a 57-30 win over Welch in the losers bracket semifinals Friday at Coyle.

“The seniors were talking about they had never even played on a Friday at regionals before, much less win a game by 30,’’ said second-year coach Tana Turney.

The Lady Broncs (14-12)  are headed for their first area tournament since 2009 and their only second appearance there in the last 20 years after beating Porum 52-44 in overtime Saturday in the losers bracket finals at Coyle.

The Lady Broncs will face Oaks — a 68-54 loser to Frontier in a winners braceket final Saturday — at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Class A Area II losers bracket quarterfinals at Glenpool.

“We had a bunch of young girls (three starting freshman, one sophomore and one senior) step up,’’ Turney said. “It hasn’t been easy.’’

Especially after standout guard Katie Davis went down for the season with a torn ACL at the Cherokee Tournament. Davis, given a lemon, made lemonade out of it by being Turney’s “assistant on the bench.’’

“She’s had a huge role in our success,’’ Turney said. “She has kept our morale up and gets the bench fired up. She was always talking to the guards during timeouts. I think she’s learned a lot, which hopefully will help her when she returns.’’

Davis’ injury put freshman Kalli Rundle into the starting lineup. Rundle has her best offensive output in the regional, averaging 8.7 points per game. Rundle’s progress had been slowed by an ankle sprain early in the season.

Rundle had two “big buckets’’ in a 9-0 run in the overtime period Saturday.

Freshman Jordan Harris has been the team’s main ballhandler all season. She may not score much, but she took over as the vocal leader on the floor when Davis went down.

“It’s fun to see a freshman take that role,’’ Turney said. “She’s not intimidated.’’

Freshman Rebecca Wasson averaged 25.7 points in the regionals, including a season-high 38 in a 65-41 rout of Okay in the losers bracket quarterfinals.

Wasson’s size made the difference in that game, Turney said.

“It’s amazing how far she’s come,’’ Turney said. “She has developed into quite a ballplayer. It’s going to be exciting to see what the next three years will hold for her.’’

The three freshmen actually “raised the bar’’ of expectations for the older players. The trio had been successful in junior high and had impressed Turney when she had coached against them as seventh- graders while coaching at Covington-Douglas.

“They set the tone every day in practice,’’ Turney said. “All three of them play year round. They always came for open gym. When we opened the weight room, they were the first ones there. They are extremely dedicated.’’

Sophomore Billie Jo Gabriel averaged 11.7 points in the regionals with two games in double figures — 12 against Porum and 16 against Welch Friday. She was in double figures only twice before that, both coming the last two weeks.

“She is always the go-getter on defense,’’ Turney said. She’s opened up on offense and has been amazing at the foul line.’’

Ryan Voth, the lone senior starter, had 13 points in the regional. She does the dirty work inside.

“She has been a solid leader and rebounder,’’ Turney said. “She had a lot of assists. She and Becca were great inside together.’’

Sophomore Mary Mitchell, senior Elizabeth Elliott and junior Shay Regier got into the scoring column off the bench.

The later they went into the playoffs, the hungrier the Lady Broncs became.

“We just took it one day at a time,’’ Turney said. “We were the underdog. We just wanted to go out and play hard and whatever happens, happens.’’

The Broncs shouldn’t be intimidated after facing a killer schedule which included area bound Pond Creek-Hunter, Burlington, Timberlake and Lomega among others.

“We learned from our tough losses,’’ Turney said. “The regular season is to prepare you for the playoffs. It exposes your weaknesses and you figure out what you need to work on.

“Being so young we knew we would have to go through some growing pains ... but these girls had so much fight in them, we just wanted to have more success every day. In the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what your record is. You just need to outscore your opponent.’’

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.