Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Chickasha High School girls basketball team had already wrapped up Tuesday night’s home game against El Reno when the Matchbox 20 song “Let’s See How Far We’ve Come” played during a timeout with 27 seconds left.
The song was fitting, as the Lady Chicks closed out their eighth win of the season by beating El Reno 46-34. Chickasha only won seven games last season. The team has already come a long way this year.
The Lady Chicks have four regular season games left, two of them against teams they’ve already beaten this year, Noble and Durant.
“It’s been a long time since Chickasha girls had eight wins in one season,” head coach Christy Edelen said. “We’re not going to stop here.”
The game was close throughout the first half. Chickasha led by two points after the first quarter and one point at halftime.
The Lady Chicks had taken a 17-11 lead in the second quarter, and looked ready to blow the game open, but the Lady Indians responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead. Chickasha led 24-23 at the half.
El Reno began the third quarter in a full-court press defense, but it didn’t slow Chickasha down. The Lady Chicks extended the lead to 10 points by the end of the period, and their defense only allowed two points and no field goals.
Anchoring the zone defense was freshman center Taylor Sylvester, who scored only two points in the game but still had a double-double with 10 blocks and 10 rebounds.
“We just said that Taylor or Sierra [Hamilton], whoever’s in, can completely control the paint tonight, so everybody else take a step out wider,” Edelen said. “That was the plan going in, we just didn’t execute it in the first half.
“I think once Taylor started blocking everyone’s shot in the paint, they kind of got confidence in her and trusted her to handle it,” Edelen said.
El Reno never got closer than six points in the fourth quarter, and the most drama came at the beginning of the final period when the Indians’ head coach received a technical foul for arguing with an official.
Kieley Clift scored six of Chickasha’s first eight points of the game, and also scored five out of the Chicks’ last seven to close out the win. She led her team with 17 points.
“She’s a competitor,” Edelen said. “She is so fast and quick with the ball, she always has an opportunity to get by her girl. She has great hands.”
Clift and Dominique Golightly have been able to play off the ball more since Alex Stewart has returned to the lineup from a knee injury that sidelined her in late January. Stewart took on much of the point guard role on Tuesday.
“It takes a little bit of pressure off Dominique especially, and Shorty too, just to have three trusted ball handlers out there to make good decisions,” Edelen said. “Plus, it gives us another opportunity of looking for mismatches.”
Stewart scored nine points, and Golightly scored eight. Sierra Hamilton was second for the Chicks with 12 points.
The Lady Chicks will play back-to-back road games Friday and Saturday. First the Chicks play Noble in a rematch of the season opener, which Chickasha won 54-27.
Saturday, Chickasha will play at No. 1 Anadarko. The Lady Warriors beat Chickasha 68-47 on Dec. 21 in Chickasha.
To put the difference between those two opponents in perspective, Anadarko beat Noble 94-26 on Jan. 10. The Warriors’ only loss came to the No. 1 team in class 6A, Edmond Santa Fe.
“It’s good for us,” Edelen said. “We definitely want to put our focus and attention on Noble first. Anadarko, we’ll go do the best we can and see where it takes us. It’s a good preparation for the playoffs, because we have plans of making some noise in the playoffs.”