Mar. 3—GARBER, Okla. — Garber's girls will be looking for revenge of sorts when the Lady Wolverines face No. 2-ranked and defending state champion Hydro-Eakly (23-3) at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the Class A state tournament at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
The Lady Wolverines (21-3) shot only 20% from the field last year in losing to the Lady Bobcats 72-30 in the area winners bracket finals at the Stride Bank Center. Garber bounced back to reach state, where it fell to eventual runnerup Canute, 74-55.
"We're pretty familiar with them because they are pretty much the same group except for one kid," said Garber coach Jamie Davis. "They are doing similar things. Our kids remember their player tendencies, which give us a big leg up on what to expect."
The Lady Bobcats, Davis said, are "very similar" to No. 1-ranked Vanoss, which beat Garber 57-36 in the area winners bracket finals at Cleveland Friday.
"That's going to be very beneficial in preparing us for the type of game that we will see tomorrow (Wednesday)," Davis said.
Hydro-Eakly is riding a 16-game winning streak, including a 62-28 rout of No. 5 Crowder in its area final. Their three losses have come against 6A Mustang, 63-49; 5A Piedmont, 41-39; and 2A Amber-Pocasset, 51-44.
Davis acknowledges being the underdog.
"All the pressure is on them," she said. "We just want to go in and play confident, fly around on defense and control the boards. It all starts on the defensive end."
Garber is playing at the Arena (aka The Big House) for the first time since 2008. They lost in the first round at Southern Nazarene a year ago.
"I'm excited for all the teams getting to play there this year," Davis said. "All these kids have grown up wanting to play in the Big House. They will get to fulfill their dream. This is just a historic place. Grandparents are telling their grandkids about playing there 50 years ago.
"I think our experience from last year will help us. We're not satisfied with just being there. We want to do something once we get there. I think we will be less nervous having that under our belts."
Kathryn Plunkett is averaging 13.8 points in the postseason, followed by Ashlan Light (10.0), Kamilah Gay (8.3), Grace Howry (8.0) and Alyssa Johnson (7.7). Plunkett had 20 and Light 16 in a 64-43 rout of Frontier in the Area losers bracket finals.
"I was proud of how we shared the ball Saturday," Davis said. "That's what makes us so hard to guard. These kids don't care who is our leading scorer. They just do whatever it takes to help the team. We started to turn the corner after Christmas break with our defense and rebounding."
Plunkett, a four-year starter, has stepped up as both a player and person as a senior, Davis said.
Light is both an effective ballhandler and three-point shooter being able to create her own shots. She is a "great defender with active hands and good body control," Davis said.
The 6-foot-2 Gay has been a double-figure rebounder and is beginning to step up and shoot the threes.
The 6-0 Howry has a "nice, soft touch," Davis said, "and has been able to after a lot of shots."
Johnson is known for her quickness and her "knack to get to the basket." She anticipates well which has resulted in both a lot of deflections and steals, Davis said.
Davis said Garber's schedule prepared her team for the playoffs. The Lady Wolverines beat 3A Alva (45-42) and Chisholm (60-54) at the Wheat Capitol and lost to 4A Kingfisher, 56-54 in overtime.
"That helped us establish our identity that we could play with really good teams," Davis said.
The Garber/Hydro-Eakly winner will play the winner of the 2 p.m. game between Seiling/Cheyenne-Reydon at 4 p.m. Friday.
The other side of the bracket has top-seeded Vanoss (24-0) against Thomas (16-8) at 6:30 p.m. and Crowder (19-1) against Vici (20-5) at 8:30 p.m. Those winners play at 2 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
"We're just thankful we have made it this far," Davis said.
Campbell is a former sports writer and current part-time writer for the News & Eagle, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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