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Bixby girls set record in dominating Tournament of Champions semifinal win

Late run enables Lincoln Christian girls to break tie in victory against Sapulpa

By Ty Loftis 

Photo of Bixby's Gracy Wernli by Carlos Flores

TULSA - It was a dominating performance in the first Tournament of Champions semifinal game of the evening, which pitted Bixby against Kiefer.

Bixby moved one step closer to repeating as ToC champions by beating Kiefer, 77-22. The 55-point win was the largest margin of victory in a Tournament of Champions game, which dates back 57 years.

It was the Kate and Gracy Wernli show in the first half that got Bixby going, as the sisters combined to score 19 of the Lady Spartans’ 40 first-half points. Coach Tina Thomas remarked about the progress they have made.

“The two have been playing together their whole life,” Thomas said. “Watching them grow and mature has been great, and the future for the rest of this season is bright with those two.”

Gracy Wernli finished with 27 points in the victory, and talked about how well the Lady Spartans are playing right now.

“We are focused right now,” Wernli said. “Playing and practicing over the winter break can be difficult, but we have done a good job of staying grounded and now we just have to come ready to play (Friday) and get that championship.”

Thomas echoed similar sentiments regarding Friday’s championship game, as Bixby takes on Lincoln Christian.

“We know it’s going to be a test. ... We will have to come ready to play," she said.

Gentry Baldwin added 10 points in the first half and was a major contributor en route to the dominating win.

Lincoln Christian 59, Sapulpa 54

The second ToC semifinal matchup between Lincoln Christian and Sapulpa was much more competitive, as it was the Lady Bulldogs coming away with the win.

Sapulpa trailed for a large part of the night before a Stailee Heard basket tied it at 52 apiece with 90 seconds left. From there, Lincoln Christian outscored the Lady Chieftains, 7-2.

Lincoln Christian scored their final seven points from the foul line, going 7-of-10.

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“It’s something we practice every day and there is a reason for it,” Lincoln Christian coach Melody Stewart said. “We made the shots when we needed them most (Thursday).”

Both teams started out hot from the floor, as it was Lincoln Christian taking an 18-13 lead into the second quarter. The Lady Bulldogs opened with three straight 3-pointers to open the game.

Midway through the second quarter, that Lady Bulldog lead extended to nine behind a 3-pointer from Audrey Hopkins and a bucket from Maddi Stewart.

“We were clicking offensively, especially in that first half and limiting their chances,” Melody Stewart said.

Following a time out midway through the second quarter, the Lady Chieftains went on a 16-8 run, which trimmed the lead to one at halftime.

“That is a team that you can’t let off the ropes,” Stewart said. “We did that and got challenged, but thankfully, we were strong enough to hold on for the win.”

In the second half, the scoring slowed down, as Lincoln Christian opened the second half on a 6-0 run over the course of the first five minutes. Sapulpa was able to weather that storm, however, as Lincoln Christian led by four entering the final frame.

The Lady Chieftains tied it twice in the fourth quarter, but were never able to take the lead.

On championship Friday, Kiefer will take on Sapulpa in the third place game at 4 p.m., and Bixby will face Lincoln Christian for the championship at 7 p.m. from the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Holland Hall 69, Okarche 57

After both teams suffered close losses on Wednesday, both squads started Thursday morning’s consolation-round action looking to get that bad taste out of their mouth.

It was the Lady Dutch who took down an Okarche team that put up a fight throughout the contest, as senior guard Emma Stover scored 18 points. For the Lady Dutch, it was Elise Hill and Ava Casper who were too much for the Lady Warriors, as the duo combined for 38 points.

Norman 57, Pocola 29

Both Pocola and Norman were looking to rebound after suffering difficult losses in the opening round of the Tournament of Champions.

It was the Lady Tigers who got off to a hot start and the Lady Indians were never able to recover. Kayla Jones scored 18 points for the Lady Tigers, and they shot nearly 60 percent from the field as a team.

Norman takes on Holland Hall in the fifth-place game Friday, while Pocola faces Okarche for seventh place.