Oakdale plays for repeat

Published 2:12 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

Oakdale won its first state championship last season, and that has driven it to want to add another trophy.

The Warriors will go for the nonselect Division IV girls state basketball title No. 2 when they face No. 1 Arcadia at 4 p.m. today at the University Center in Hammond.

The Warriors made a stunning title run last year as the No. 9 seed and upset three top-four teams. This time they are ranked No. 2 but equally as eager to win a title.

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“It is the same as last year but a little bit hungrier,” Oakdale head coach Renotta Edwards said.

“I think once you get a taste of that state championship, you just want it more and more and more.

“That propelled their confidence. When you think you can do something, then knowing you know you can do it, is two different things. I think winning a state championship got them into the mind-set ‘I know I can do it.’ I think that is why we are the two seed. They kind of picked up where they left off.”

It will be a rematch of last year’s semifinal game that Oakdale won on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Emani Young. She scored 17 points in the Warriors’ 57-50 win over White Castle in the semifinals on Monday, and Kaylea Bradley had 24 points and nine rebounds.

“(I expect) blood, sweat and tears,” Edwards said. “It is going to be a dog fight.

“(Arcadia wants) redemption and we want to continue to prove why we deserved it and earned it. It is going to be a great game.”

Oakdale has held opponents under 50 points in seven of its last eight games.

“We just continue to be who we are, getting up the floor and playing really good defense,” Edwards said.”

Containing Arcadia 6-foot post Justice Young will be the’ top priority.

“They have their big Justice Young,” Edwards said. “She is amazing. She is big, tall and athletic. She is super strong. She is all that you want in a post player and more.

“That is definitely the key, trying to stop her as best as we can. We are going to guard her as soon as she gets off the bus.”

Nonselect Division V

Powerhouse Fairview will play today in its fifth consecutive state championship game.

The Panthers, who lead the state in all classes with 14 state titles, will go for No. 15 against No. 1 Hicks at 8 p.m.

The teams met Dec. 11 in Grant with the Pirates winning 75-68.

Fairview won three consecutive state titles from 2020 to 2022 before losing 65-54 to Hathaway in last year’s final.

Hicks made an equally impressive run, winning four in a row from 2019 to 2022 but lost to Fairview in the quarterfinals last season 89-46.

The Pirates’ offense is centered around senior center Shyanne Phillips (25 ppg, 15 rpg) and senior point guard Reese Stephens (18 ppg).

Fairview spread the ball around in its 81-70 win over Anacoco in the semifinals Tuesday led by a double-double by Ella Reeves (19 points, 10 rebounds), the Panthers’ lone senior and Avery Williams (20-10).