Sapulpa Tournament


Lady Spartans Capture Tourney Finale

 By Ron Holt

Developing continuity and building team chemistry are difficult when a team is playing short-handed.

That was the situation facing Bixby High’s Lady Spartans during last week’s Holiday Basketball Classic in Sapulpa.

Injuries, illness and vacations left the Lady Spartans, now 3-5, with eight active players at the start of the tourney and nine players the final two days.

Despite being out-manned against Fort Smith, Ark., Northside and Tulsa Washington in the first two games of the tourney, Bixby put together a consistent performance in defeating Northeast Academy of Oklahoma City, 62-19, in the seventh place game.

Fort Smith, which lost in overtime to Edmond Santa Fe in the tourney championship game, defeated Bixby, 50-25, in the tourney opener while Tulsa Washington routed the Lady Spartans, 57-29, in a losers’ bracket game.

Leading 5-2 early against OC Northeast, Bixby went on an 11-2 run as junior Maddie Bittle contributed seven points and Sarah Tyree scored four points for a 15-4 lead.

Senior guard Kendal Pirtle battled illness during the tourney. She sat out the Fort Smith Northside game and played sparingly against Tulsa Washington but turned in a consistent performance against Northeast. During’s Bixby’s early 11-2 run, Pirtle was credited with three assists. With her back on the floor, the Lady Spartans improved offensively.

Bixby built a 32-10 lead at intermission, a lead which grew to 54-17 going into the final quarter.

“Kendal had been sick but she played a few minutes against Washington even though she had to run off the floor to throw up,” Bixby head coach Tina Thomas said. “She brings some leadership and assistance in ball handling and floor management to our team and frees some of our other players to what they do best.

“I thought the girls were trying to execute our offense today (against Northeast) and we worked on some defensive things so when we get in that situation this year we will have practiced it.

“We needed this win bad. We took it hard the first two games of the tournament but we were shooting the ball so poorly the first two games and that didn’t improve a lot today,” coach Thomas added. “We’re missing too many easy shots and sometimes we’re trying to do too much.”

Besides Pirtle being hampered by illness, Bixby also played without sophomore guard Dariann Myles and sophomore Sydney Page, both sidelined with knee injuries. Myles, who started for the Lady Spartans a year ago, is lost for the season while Page could return to action in the coming week.

Bixby should be closer to full strength this week with the return of Pirtle, Page and players who were out of town.

“We’re lacking chemistry in the worst way. That’s something that has to come from them, there’s just so much I can do,” Coach Thomas added. “They have to generate that on their own. I think we can do nothing but move forward from here.

“Like I told the girls afterward, individually you are just a drop but together you can have the force of an ocean … I want them to embrace that as we move forward.”

The Lady Spartans return to tourney play this week in the Putnam City Invitational Tournament, scheduled at Putnam West’s gymnasium. Bixby plays Putnam City at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5.

With a win, BHS plays the Putnam City West-Oklahoma City Storm winner at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. With a first round loss, the Lady Spartans play the Putnam West-OKC Storm loser at 10 a.m. Friday.

In other first round games Thursday, Southmoore plays Edmond Memorial at 10 a.m. and Tulsa Union tests Putnam City North at 7 p.m.



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