The last Class to narrow their teams to 4 was Class 4A with quarterfinals starting late Thursday afternoon at the Lloyd Noble Center. The games would last late into the night as Choctaw shocked Moore with a dramatic overtime victory.…
The last Class to narrow their teams to 4 was Class 4A with quarterfinals starting late Thursday afternoon at the Lloyd Noble Center. The games would last late into the night as Choctaw shocked Moore with a dramatic overtime victory.
For more on the four contests, click here.
Now, here’s a look at the players that shined in Oklahoma’s biggest classification on the biggest stage.
The star of the night, Valentine jumpstarted the Yellowjackets with a couple impressive steals to start the third quarter. He closed that quarter with a pair of huge three pointers. It was through his energy and scoring that a Choctaw team that had been stuck in neutral all night finally pushed forward and took their first lead of the contest in the fourth quarter. He would have 20 points and 4 steals on the night. None bigger than in the final moments of the overtime. With Choctaw trailing by 3 in the final seconds, the junior was the one to step up and hit a huge three to tie it. But he didn’t settle for another extra four minutes of basketball, seconds later he jumped a pass at half-court and raced for the game winning layup.
Valentine missed part of the season due to injury. It’s given him a disjointed look to his junior campaign. As as a freshman and sophomore the microwave scoring style guard had a clear swagger to his game and scored buckets in bunches. While his scoring flurries last night proved he can still do that, there has been a renewed effort on the defensive end. And this effort in the biggest moments is a great momentum builder for the scoring guard as he chases a Gold Ball with Choctaw, while also heading into a pivotal 17U year on the AAU circuit.
Other seniors have had flashier scoring numbers this season. There’s a few casual fans that might be shocked by Dow’s production or how he does it. But here’s nothing deceptive about Dow’s athleticism. He covers ground in large chunks from racing down the court to make a defensive play in transition to acrobatically finishing around the rim. He has been a terror for the last two seasons, making college level plays on both ends of the court. And when Broken Arrow has needed a player to produce in the biggest moments, it’s been Dow.
Thursday evening was no different. He set the tone with a pair of deep threes. But after that his usually reliable three point shot didn’t fall quite as sweetly as it usually does. That didn’t matter as he started knifing through Norman’s defense, avoiding defenders on the way there and at the rim. The future OSU Cowboy punctuated the contested with a pair of slams in the fourth. Sealing Broken Arrow’s first retuo the Class 6A Semifinals since 2018. Dow finished with 22 points, on 9-14 shooting from the field.
Seemingly every night is a resume builder for the phenomenal freshman. This one came with him pushing through some adversity in the first half. Montonati opened with quick scoring for five points. But those would be the only field goals he made in the second half. He was dogged and harassed by a swarming Antlers’ defense. The 6 foot 7 forward found his way to the foul line 7 times in the first half, he nailed all 7. Proving that even with an off shooting half, he can still produce the needed points.
The second half was a retuo form from the field. Fadeaways. Stepbacks. Drives. Catch and shoot. It remains impressive the deep scoring bag the lanky youngster already posses. He scored a team high 27 points in Owasso’s victory. Now, he has a rematch of last Friday’s huge win against Dow and Broken Arrow.
When it’s March, it’s time to feed “Wolverine” around the rim. Edmond North raced out to a first half lead behind 14 points from the powerful junior wing. In the second half the swarm of Hornets around him intensified, so he proceeded to feed his teammates more. Leading to 4 assists to go along with his 18 points and 9 rebounds. The consistent production has been Warlick’s calling card since starting as a freshman on a State Tournament team. Now he’ll do battle again against a physical and tough Choctaw team.
Junior Darian Grant Darian Grant 6'6″ | PF Moore | 2024 State OK was a huge reason why the Lions punched their ticket to Lloyd Noble and he put on a show one they arrived. He wing was a handful off the dribble, powering through defenders to finish at the rim. Or draining pull ups and fadeways in the midrange. He scored some of his biggest buckets when it mattered the most. Down 2 with 20 seconds left, Grant had the ball at the top of the key. A future Power 5 defensive end was matched up with him. Grant was able to get the separation to drive to the rim, where once again he was met by the defensive end. It didn’t matter he powered through with a textbook finish to tie the game and force OT.
In the extra frame, he remained active on drives and on the offensive glass. A put-back by the junior wing momentarily gave Moore the lead. Then seconds later, he was fouled. Grant hit both of his free throws to extend the lead to three. Unfortunately for Grant his heroics would be undone by the Valentine’s clutch plays. But the Moore Lion still finished the night with 29 points and 8 rebounds.
Committed to OSU for football, Smith has been one of the Yellowjackets’ most productive players all season long. Last night was no different as he scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Not only a physical force around the rim, he’s can play vertically too with the way he blocks shots. Another impressive note, he was the only Yellowjacket not to miss any free throws. He went 5-5 on the night.
Another gridiron standout that was hooping at Lloyd Noble Center was Booker T Washington’s QB Lathan Boone Lathan Boone 6'1″ | CG Booker T Washington | 2023 State OK . He had a team high 15 points and his first half shooting from beyond the arc was what kept the Hornets in the game. Along with the points, he was a key part of Booker T Washington’s pressure defense that forced 17 turnovers on the night. 3 of them were credited as steals by Boone.
The score keeper at Lloyd Noble Center might have short changed the long armed junior wing on blocks. It felt like Combs-Pierce was always around the rim blocking shots, altering and in general making life difficult for Broken Arrow’s front line. This was a huge growth year with the talented Tigers’ motor running hotter in many viewings and despite the outcome on Thursday, the development by Combs-Pierce was obvious to see this year.
Broken Arrow and Norman were the two tallest teams in the state all year long. In the battle of giants, Willenborg ended up being the man to come down with the most rebounds in the game with 11 boards. Unfortunately for the senior and Norman, his jumper wasn’t falling on the day. But he still battled his way to 7 points. The senior has been impressive with his inside-out abilities all season long. As he continues to fill out physically to better hold up around the rim, look for Willenborg to have one of the best college careers of any player in this 2023 class.
After struggling in the first half, Linsenmeyer was the offensive focal point of the Antlers’ rally attempt in the fourth. He displayed the full width of his scoring abilities. From posting up a younger guard, off the dribble jumpers to drives to the rim. The junior finished with 14 points.