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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Turner returns confidently to Class A state

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  • Pegged as "longshots" to win the Class A state tournament, Turner's girls sure didn't act like ones Wednesday.
    The Falcons were all smiles — relaxed, laughing and excited to be back at state for another chance to show the rest of Oklahoma its pedigree.
    As if they didn't already. Faced with elimination in the Area II consolation championship on Saturday, Turner didn't just beat No. 3 Dewar, the Falcons sent the expected state tournament team home convincingly.
    "We played really good," Turner coach Shane Hill said of the Falcons' 63-45 win. "They (Dewar) came off a big loss (to Konawa) the night before. We were laying in the grass waiting for them and we took advantage.
    "I think we just wanted it more than they did."
    That's what making it to state and being ousted in an instant can do. It creates an urgency that the Falcons admittedly didn't have last season.
    Now, a year removed from last year's benchmark, Turner (27-4) enters today's quarterfinal game against defending state champion Frontier with a new mindset, particularly after rolling past Dewar last week.
    Before the consolation final, however, the Falcons were a little jittery with a shot at state on the line.
    "We were nervous, because they were the No. 3 team in the state," senior forward Conner Harmon said. "A lot of people had doubts."
    "I think we had doubts, too," senior guard Kylee O'Dell said.
    As the game went on, however, Turner took control. The Falcons led by 11 at halftime and by 20 at the end of the third quarter. Confidence emerged.
    "We had nothing to lose, so we were like 'why not just leave it all out there,'" senior guard Taylor Foster said. "Anything can happen at this point. Our chances are just as good as anyone else's."
    Turner's return to state shouldn't be looked at as a surprise. Harmon is a three-time All-Ardmoreite Super Team player and one of the best players in Class A, with a 19.3 points per game average and a 53/41/82 split in field goal, 3-point and free-throw percentages for the season. She joins fellow senior Taylor Foster and junior sisters Andi and Perri McGill as returning starters from last year's 27-2 team.
    Andi McGill (12.2 ppg) was an All-Ardmoreite Super Team guard as a sophomore, and Hill said Foster (11.0 ppg) has come into her own in her final season.
    "We had to have some people step up and fill the vacancy defensively and even offensively," Hill said. "We lost 16 points, probably 8-10 rebounds. We had to start guarding the post different ways.
    "Foster has really stepped up her game. She's averaging double digits this year. When you lose 16 points, you have to have people step up."
    Page 2 of 2 - The senior girls — Harmon, Foster and O'Dell — say that the loss of All-State post Hannah Stevens to graduation has been a big transition defensively, but one they've been able to adjust to. They'll have more work to do against Frontier forward Marissa Goodman, who led the Mustangs to a state title as a sophomore last season and has had a prolific year scoring for the 23-6 Mustangs.
    Hill said his girls are up for it. They certainly looked ready on the eve of the biggest game of their lives.
    "That's what's good about our team: people want the challenge. They embrace it," Hill said. "I just don't think there's gonna be that awe factor.
    "Now, with the experience they've got, hopefully they handle it a little differently and they come ready to play from the word 'go.'"
    Follow Horne on Twitter @ekhorneARD

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