CLEVELAND – The Warner Lady Eagles (22-4) qualified for the State 2A tournament Friday night by Defeating the #1 ranked (27-2) Dale Pirates 47-42 in the Area II finals. The win was the Lady Eagles eighth in-a-row and five straight since the playoff bracket began. With the win they advance to the final eight to be held at the State Fairgrounds Arena March 7th thru 11th.
Dale came into the game winning their last 27 games in-a-row, with their only loss coming to #5 Preston in the season opener.
The Lady Eagles opened the game with 3-pointers from Peyton Sikes, Jordan Jackson and Alexis Fowler accounting for all of their first period points and a 1-point 9-8 lead after one period.
In the second, Sikes and Harlie Chesser both hit from long range and Warner held on to a 15-14 lead with 2:55 remaining in the half.
At the 2:00 mark Sikes scored the first 2-point basket for Warner. Freshman Kambree Ellis followed up with her first two points of the nigh on an assist by Fowler. Then it was Jackson for three and Fowelr for two to put Warner in front of the top ranked Pirates by 10 points 24-14 at the half.
In the third period the Lady Eagles opened up the lead to 14 points with the aid of yet two more 3-pointers from Sikes and Jackson, but Dale began to find the range from the floor and the foul line to close to within 5 points with under a minute remaining in the period.
With just 3 seconds remaining Kaylen Park got her first points of the night via a short jumper and an extra point on the foul to give Warner a 10-point advantage after three periods.
Dale opened the final period with 4 straight points to cut the lead to six before Ellis was fouled under the basket on her two-pointer and added the third point on the free throw to take the lead back to 9-points 40-31.
The Lady Eagles started the stall game half way through the final period and forced the Pirates to go to the foul game to stop the clock. That strategy got Dale to within 5 points but the time ran out on the Pirates and Warner earned their spot in the final eight 47-42 over top ranked Dale.
Dale came into the game winning 57 of their last 59 games but were upset by a Lady Eagles that shot over 40% for the night and sank 9, 3-pointers to only 3 for the Pirates.
Sikes led the way for Warner with 14 points followed by Jackson and Ellis with 9 each and Fowler with 7 points.
The Area II champion Lady Eagles will head to Oklahoma City next week on the winners side of the bracket with three other teams, along with the four qualifiers from the consolation bracket. It is very possible they will face Dale one more time, possibly for the state championship.