By Andrew Glover
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
To be the best you have to beat the best. The Pawnee Black Bears hope to do just that when they take on the defending Class 2A champion Latta Panthers in the state quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City University’s Abe Lemons Arena.
The No. 6 Black Bears (22-5) advanced to their eighth state tournament in the last 10 years with a 47-43 victory over Kiefer in the area consolation championship Saturday. To reach the consolation championship, Pawnee beat Rejoice Christian and Yale. Coach David Page said his team is playing its best basketball entering the state tournament.
“Our kids figured out they can play hard,” Page said. “They played harder last week than they have all season.”
The No. 2 Panthers (24-4) advanced with a 54-51 victory over No. 3 Haworth in the area championship. Page said it should be a good matchup for his team.
“They are guard oriented and shoot the ball well,” Page said. “They are a team that hasn’t been pressed much and that’s one of our strengths. Hopefully, we can press them some.”
If the Black Bears win, they will face the winner of Preston and Thomas-Fay-Custer in the state semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Jim Norick State Fair Arena. The state championship will be at 9:15 p.m. Saturday. Pawnee is seeking its first title since 2010 when it capped off a three-peat. Page said playing solid defense will be key to advancing.