Kee earns MVP honors with 4th quarter

Stephen C. Smith Sr., Times Record News

After allowing a seven-point fourth-quarter lead to evaporate with just one with 3:53 remaining, Oklahoma held Texas to just one point down the stretch to come away with a 66-59 win in the Maskat Shrine Oil Bowl Classic girls basketball game Thursday night at Midwestern State University’s D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
“This is all very special for all of us,” Oklahoma coach Carol Parker said after the game. “More than the win or anything, I’m just happy to help the Shriners and it was very special for the girls, too.”
Mara Kee of Beaver, Okla. finished with 16 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, to lead all scorers and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“She has had the flu and has been really sick for the past two weeks,” Parker said. “But she was able to push past all that and played great for us tonight.”
Kee and Dover’s Keshia Holmes (10 points) were a combined 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final minutes of the contest and scored 13 of Oklahoma’s 19 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was a big game for me because I’m an Oklahoman through and through,” Kee said. “The Oil Bowl has a great football tradition, so I felt privileged to play in the basketball game here.”
Euless Trinity’s 6-1 post, Carlynn Savant, scored three straight baskets to pull Texas within one at 59-58 with 3:53 left before Texas’ offensive well ran absolutely dry.
“I called a timeout and told them to keep a cool head,” Parker said. “We had the lead and I just told them to play like it because time was on our side – and they did.”
Savant led Texas with 14 points, while Mansfield Summit’s Kelsie Edwards had 13 and Boyd’s Erica Parker 11. Nikki Yeager of Oolagah, Okla. finished with 12 points.
“Our kids played real well, but they beat us from the free-throw line,” said Texas coach Deryll Friday, “They made the most of their opportunities. We had good looks at the basket, but we must have missed 10 shots in the last two minutes.
“We couldn’t score and once you can’t do that, you get a little frustrated.”
Texas’ Parker opened the fourth quarter with a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give Texas a 50-47 lead after Endurance Wali’s 3-point buzzer-beater tied the game at 47-47 to end the third quarter.
Unfortunately for Texas, offense became awfully hard to come by after that.
“I think their execution on offense hurt us,” Friday said. “They were able to make that extra pass that we didn’t have time to work on. And that third pass usually found the open player. We could make two passes, but just couldn’t get that third one.”
Oklahoma took an 18-13 first quarter lead on the strength of Samantha Stovall’s six-point effort in the post and 3-point shots from Kee and Brittany McBride. Stovall, a 6-0 post from Jenks, Okla., finished with a dozen points.
Texas managed only three field goals in the first, but stayed in the game early thanks to free throws. Edwards had seven points in the second quarter as Texas climbed out of a seven-point hole to take a 31-29 lead into the half, thanks to another last-second 3-pointer from Lyssa Dennard.
“They played hard and they really got after it out there tonight,” Friday said. “I’d like to coach them everyday.”
Oklahoma now leads the series 2-1 after the Texas-Oklahoma series format was adopted in 2001.
Staff sports writer Stephen C. Smith Sr. can be reached after 6 p.m. at 1-800-627-1646 or (940) 720-3470. Or you can e-mail him at smiths@timesrecordnews.com