By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The top-seeded Classen Lady Comets (Oklahoma City) continued their dominant run through the Pink & White Lady Classic with a 70-47 victory over No. 2-seeded Ozark on Monday night to capture the White Division title in their inaugural appearance.
The Lady Comets, whose average margin of victory per game was just over 33 points, jumped out quickly on Ozark, pressing at every opportunity and running several players in and out of the game to outscore the Lady Tigers 22-9 in the first quarter.
“That’s pretty much our style, we want to get up and down,” Classen coach James Perinovic said. “We tell the girls that they’re going to make mistakes, so defensively, we want to get as many opportunities to score the ball. We’ve got to work, and we’ve got the bodies to do it, so we get out and work.”
Classen’s physical, man-to-man defense did not allow Ozark many scoring opportunities in the first half, especially.
“Coming out of the gate, we weren’t ready for the physicality of the game,” Ozark coach David Brewer said. “It really looked different than any game we’ve played in, so far. We didn’t adjust to the way the game was being called. They put pressure on us and got us knocked offline and out of our game, and I would say a little panicky, I felt like.
“In the third quarter, we did play better, but (Classen) had a different mind-set, so we were able to do some things that they wouldn’t let us do in the first half.”
Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, a 6-foot-1 sophomore who has received D-I offers from Louisville and Arizona State, among others, scored a game-high 21 points for the Lady Comets, who defeated Pink Division champion Ft. Smith-Northside in the Arkansas Tournament of Champions earlier this season.
“She’s a heck of a kid,” Perinovic said of Littlepage-Buggs. “She works hard and does a little bit of everything for us. She came out very aggressive today. She loves the big moment, and it really showed.”
Even though the outcome wasn’t what the Lady Tigers had hoped for, they did get to the championship game for the first time since 2013.
“We made a good run,” said senior guard Madi Braden, who led the Lady Tigers with 16 points. “In the past, we haven’t made it very far. So, this year, we thought it was our year. We came in and competed. The game was very intense and physical, but we adjusted throughout the game.”
And, it’s an experience that his team can learn from going forward, Brewer said.
“We’re happy with our tournament,” Brewer said. “We got to the finals and that was our goal. We just focused on the first three games (of the tournament).
“We didn’t compete like we wanted to tonight, but we’ve got (Columbia) Rock Bridge coming next, so we decided in the locker room, ‘did we learn from this on how we follow the game plan, and don’t panic under pressure,’ because we’ll see it again in about a week.”
No. 1 Classen SAS 70, No. 2 Ozark 47
Pink & White Lady Classic
White Division – Championship game
CLASSEN SAS 70, OZARK 47
CLASSEN SAS 22-17-13-18—70
OZARK (9-2) – Katie Mayes 2, Anna Hitt 9, Madi Braden 16, Olivia Hanks 8, Moriah Putt 4, Lyla Watson 3, Riley Boggs 5.
CLASSEN SAS (10-2) – Jordan Harrison 10, Micah Gray 13, Darianna Littlepage-Buggs 21, Alyson Kennedy 9, Jasmine McCloud 2, Amyah Sutton 2, Jaida O’Conner 2, Madison Roberts 10.
Jim Jester Sportsmanship Award: Republic; Jane A. Meyer Award: Allie Clevenger, Clever