By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
Northwest Oklahoma is well represented in the Class 2A girls state basketball tournament that opens today, and if things break just right, there could be an all-area final on Saturday between Fairview and Alva.
But, first things first.
Defending state champion Fairview opens the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. today at Westmoore when the Lady Jackets take on a familiar foe, Thomas.
Fairview (24-4), ranked third in the state by OKRankings.com, owns a victory over No. 9 Thomas (23-3) in their only meeting of the season, having defeated the Lady Terriers 52-42 Nov. 30 at Thomas.
The Ladyjackets are led in scoring by senior Olivia Mason who is averaging 15.9 points per game and sophomore Baylor Reese with 10.8 points per game.
If Fairview is to successfully defend its title, it will have take a familar route as it will need to replicate last year’s championship run when it came through the area consolation bracket and won three straight elimination games, including its upset over Northeast Academy —which comes into this year’s state tournament ranked No.1 and undefeated at 26-0 — in the title game.
The Lady Jackets defeated Cordell 52-39 in the area consolation bracket final Saturday to advance to today’s contest.
Fairview found itself in the area consolation bracket after losing 54-52 to No. 2 Dale (27-1).
However, one could forgive Fairview if it would like to avoid Alva in a possible finals matchup.
The area loss to Dale was Fairview’s first loss since falling 44-33 at Alva on Feb. 5, which snapped a five-game winning streak. Fairview’s other loss prior to Feb. 5 also was to Alva, losing 53-52 at the Okeene Tournament, which snapped a 10-game winning streak going back to Dec. 14 when Fairview fell at home to Alva, 67-52.
Three of Fairview’s four losses this season have been at the hands of the Ladybugs. Fairview’s only win over Alva came in the title game of the Wheat Capital Tournament, 51-34 on Jan. 12.
If Fairview gets past Thomas today, it would meet the winner of the game between Northeast Academy and No. 13 Preston (21-10) in the semifinals on Friday.
Meanwhile, Fairview’s nemesis, No. 4 Alva (23-4), also had to survive an elimination game to make it to the state tournament.
The Ladybugs advanced to today’s 8:30 p.m. state tournament quarterfinal at Westmoore against No. 7 Colbert (25-4) by soundly defeating No. 6 Ripley 55-35 in the area consolation final Monday at Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
Alva found itself in Monday’s elimination game after falling 40-39 to Thomas Saturday in the area winner’s bracket final when Thomas’ Carley Frymire hit the game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds remaning and the Ladybugs’ Lora Riley’s shot at the buzzer came up short.
The Ladybugs are led in scoring by freshman phenom Jaden Hobbs, who is averaging 16.2 points per game, followed by Riley, averaging 8.7.
Thomas’ opponent tonight, Colbert, is riding a 15-game wining streak. The Lady Leopards have not lost since a 65-64 loss to Dewar on Dec. 29, which was the fourth loss in a four-game losing streak that accounts for all of Colbert’s losses this season. During their losing streak, Colbert lost twice by two points and once by a single point. Prior to their mid-season losing skid, the Lady Leopards had won nine in a row.
Colbert defeated Oktaha 47-44 to reach the state tournament.
If Alva gets past Colbert, the Ladybugs would face the winner of the quarterfinal game between No. 2 Dale (27-1) and No. 5 Tonkawa (24-3) in the semifinals on Friday.
And a win in the semis could set up a fifth game between Fairview and Alva for a title. But, first things first.