By Nick Snow
PERKINS, Okla. —
It never was easy. Few trips to state are. But the Perkins-Tryon High School girls basketball team is one win away from checking one goal off following a 39-30 victory over Oklahoma Christian School Tuesday.
“We’re happy to be where we’re at, one game away from the state tournament,” Perkins-Tryon coach Jerry Burnett said. “We have to play better. We have to score off our transition, hit layups and free throws. We played good defensively, but if we’re going to get there we’re going to have to play a little smarter and play a little better.”
Senior Jordan Gorham overcame early foul trouble in the first half to lead the Lady Demons (26-0) with 14 points — including eight points in the second half.
“This was my last game at my home court,” Gorham said. “I wanted to win my last game. It was like our lift to area and state. It’s exciting. We’re not going to lose, and as long as we keep working hard that’s going to be the case for the rest of the time we have.”
The Lady Demons got off to a quick start, opening the first half with a 12-2 run and it looked like the rout was on.
But then came the foul trouble.
Oklahoma Christian began going directly at Gorham, drawing two quick fouls and forcing Burnett to sit his senior with two fouls.
“When she got in foul trouble we went to the bench with Jessica Foster,” Burnett said. “Jessica did a good job, but we have to have Jordan in there to be successful. We pulled her with two and we probably could have played her with three, but we wanted to be safe and make sure we had her in the second half.”
Even with Gorham on the bench players like Sienna Hughes stepped up, knocking down a 3-pointer with just over 6 minutes before halftime. Perkins-Tryon also got a lift from McKenzie Stanford, who scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half.
The absence of Gorham eventually caught up to the Lady Demons as Oklahoma Christian went on a 9-2 run capped off by Abby Sanders’ 3-pointer with 1:51 left before halftime. But with the lead trimmed 20-17, Perkins-Tryon answered with a 5-0 run over the final two minutes to take a 25-17 lead at halftime.
“We were tight,” Burnett said. “This is a seasoned ball club. We’re coming off two semifinals in the state tournament. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was just a bad day. We didn’t have school today, so maybe that threw us off. But you have to give OCS credit, they played a good game.”
Even with Gorham back on the floor, the Lady Demons struggled to shake the Lady Saints, clinging to a 30-23 lead after three quarters.
But with the game still in doubt — and as she’s done so many times throughout her career — Gorham came through in the clutch, sparking the Perkins-Tryon offense with a 3-point play to open the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 33-23.
“I made sure I didn’t go over the back because I didn’t want to pick up another foul,” Gorham said. “There was a perfect path right there in front of me. I grabbed the ball, went up, hit the shot and got fouled.”
Oklahoma Christian made a little bit of a run as Brittney Gonce hit a 3-pointer with 2:56 left, but the Lady Demons were able to milk the clock and keep the lead in double digits through the rest of the game, putting them one win away from a berth at state.
“I think a game like this definitely helps us,” Gorham said. “During the whole game, I didn’t worry at all because I knew we had it and I knew we’d get our heads in the game.”
Along with Gorham and Stanford, Bailey Wensler finished with seven points — all coming from the free-throw line. Hughes had three points, while Lacey Shipp and Jeri Adkism each had two.