OKLAHOMA CITY — Unafraid of the stage, Christa Pickens rose to the occasion. With about 40 seconds to play, and Ardmore’s season on the line, the 5’8” freshman turned to her left and shot from 10 feet. From just outside the right edge of the lane, she banked home the game-winning jumper.

Ardmore held on to defeat Bishop McGuinness 45-43 on Thursday at Carl Albert High School. The Class 5A No. 14 Lady Tigers will play the winner of Carl Albert/Duncan on Saturday night in Area competition.

“It’s nice being a freshman, not kind of knowing what everything’s all about right now,” said Ardmore coach Kevin Kelly. “She missed that baseline jump shot earlier. For her to come in there, step up and make that shot, that’s a testament to the fact that she has the utmost confidence. I have great confidence in her to go out there and make plays. … She’s one of the best basketball players when she steps on the floor. Against any team we play, she’s one of the better basketball players on the court.

“She has to start believing that. When she does, her game’s going to hit another level.”

With three seconds to play, and Christin Russell committed a blocking foul in the backcourt, in front of her team’s bench. Torrie Schanbour hit the first free throw to pull the Lady Irish to within two points. She attempted to miss the second one intentionally, but the ball did not touch the rim. Ardmore ball. Senior Rickkia Manuel took the ball out of bounds and threw a baseball pass to the frontcourt free throw line, where Russell claimed it, and passed to Kyla Stapleton, who dribbled out the clock on the left wing.

“(Junior forward) Faith (Piggee) really didn’t have it going tonight,” Kelly said. “Give credit to Rickkia Manuel. … She plays her heart out. She stepped in there and defensively, she did a great job, rebounding. Basically, as a senior, you draw that line and say, ‘Hey, this is not going to happen to me tonight.’ She wasn’t going home tonight. Having this moment in the 

it’s just huge.”

Junior guard Tee Taylor led Ardmore with 17 points, including a trio of three-pointers.

 Ardmore (11-12) finished 4 of 19 from three-point distance against the Lady Irish’s zone. Kelly said his team settled for three-pointers, especially in the third quarter.

 Bishop McGuinness’ season ended at 6-15, including a 1-2 record against Ardmore.

“There’s no secrets of what’s going to happen between us,” Kelly said. “It was a battle of wills. Were they going to impose what they wanted to do on us, or are we going to impose what we want to do on them?”