Going into the Finals of the Tournament of Champions, Pratt High head coach Emmanuel Adigun reminded his girls that in the 40 previous years, PHS had only won the tournament twice.
Now they have won it three times, as they outlasted St. John 30-23 to take first place in the TOC on Saturday night at Pratt High School.
Going into the Finals of the Tournament of Champions, Pratt High head coach Emmanuel Adigun reminded his girls that in the 40 previous years, PHS had only won the tournament twice. Now they have won it three times, as they outlasted St. John 30-23 to take first place in the TOC on Saturday night at Pratt High School. “I told the girls that this is our community, this is our tournament,” explained Adigun. “I’m so proud of the girls for bringing the title back to Pratt.” It was not an easy win, as it was a tension-filled defensive battle in which every possession took on added importance. “I knew going in it was going to be a great defensive match-up,” said Coach Adigun. His thoughts were right on the money, as the first quarter saw only a 2-1 advantage for Pratt. Both sides were playing tough defensively, and it was not going to be easy for anyone to put points on the board. “I told the girls just to keep committing to the defensive end, and soon our shots would start to fall.” Adding to the equality between the two teams was a familiarity born of summer basketball. Players on the teams were not strangers to one another, and there was a fierce though not unfriendly rivalry among the girls. The second quarter continued to be played close to the vest. Jenson Maydew had scored the only two baskets for Pratt, and the Lady Frogs found themselves down 6-4 until Paige Bailey canned a 3-ball to put PHS up 7-6 with 3:40 to play. St. John managed to score once more before halftime while holding Pratt scoreless, and the score was 8-7 when the teams headed for the halftime locker room. After halftime, things began to loosen up a little bit offensively for both teams. Jenson Maydew scored the first seven points for Pratt, and PHS was up 14-12 when Maydew was whistled for her 3rd foul. Some in the gym may have been wondering where the offense was going to come from with Maydew on the bench, as the senior had scored 11 of Pratt’s 14 points until that time. The answer was, Bre Becker and Hailey Hook, as each converted drives down the lane to put PHS up 18-14. But St. John hit a trey to get the score back to 18-17 Pratt heading into the decisive frame. St. John hit the first bucket of Q4 to take a 19-18 lead. But then Bre Becker hit back-to-back 3s for Lady Green, and Pratt was up 24-19 with 4:00 to play. In a game where offense was at such a premium, 5 points almost seemed like a huge lead— but everyone in the gym knew that, in reality, St. John had the talent and the ability to come back. On offense, the Greenbacks began to milk the clock as St. John still had fouls to give. One possession, although it yielded no points, did manage to run an entire precious minute off the clock. By the 1:07 mark, the Tigers had only drawn to within 24-21 when they finally committed enough fouls to put PHS on the free throw line. With 30 seconds left in a one-possession game, Bre Becker was sent to the charity stripe, where she calmly swished a pair of free throws to put PHS back up by 5, which at last put them in a commanding position. “Bre is a very resilient kid,” Coach Adigun said. “When the game was on the line late, there wasn’t anyone else I would rather have had shooting free throws than her.” In desperation time in the final half-minute, St. John also tried fouling Hailey Hook and Amy Olson in an attempt to get the ball back. Each of those girls also nailed both their free throws to hold the Tigers at bay, and Pratt emerged with the tournament crown with a hard-fought 30-23 win over a fine St. John squad. “It’s always fun to win when you beat a good, quality team like St. John,” Adigun observed. “Coach (Danny) Smith does a great job and his girls have a lot of talent and play hard.” “I’m so proud, especially of our kids’ defensive effort,” Adigun continued. ‘We were tremendously disciplined on the defensive end.” For their efforts, Jenson Maydew and Breann Becker were named to the All-tournament team, with Maydew a unanimous selection. (See box for more TOC individual awards.) Of the importance of the tournament win, Coach Adigun said, “We’re happy. We are going to celebrate tonight and treat this win like it’s special, which it is.” “But,” he added, “we still have other things we want to accomplish the rest of this season. Monday, it’ll be back to the drawing board.” On Tuesday, Lady Green will begin their stretch run by hosting Kingman, game-time 6:00 p.m. The Lady Greenbacks are now 9-3 on the year. PHS girls 2 5 11 12 30 St. John 1 7 9 6 23 Jenson Maydew 11, Bailey 3, Breann Becker 10, Hook 4, Olson 2 Twitter @NeilD_Tribune.com