Junior leads Lady Jackets to ‘signature win’ over Weatherford
There came a point on Saturday when Kingfisher was teetering on the edge of losing its shot at a signature win.
Peyton Walker pulled the Lady Jackets away from the edge.
KHSwonitsthirdstraight Buckle of the Wheatbelt championship over the weekend as it knocked off Weatherford 45-40 in the title tilt.
This one, though, was different from the previous two and this win was larger than any other under second-year coach Taylor Young.
“Last year we had a really good season, but I was looking for that win that maybe we necessarily shouldn’t have won on paper,” said Young.
This was it. Though KHS entered the game ranked sixth in Class 4A, Weatherford was two spots ahead of the Lady Jackets.
And the Lady Eagles have proven a foe in which Kingfisher couldn’t conquer in recent seasons.
Before taking a two-year hiatus from the tournament, Weatherford beat KHS in the finals in both 2019 and 2020.
Then last year, Weatherford won the regular-season tussle and ended Kingfisher’s season in the quarterfi nal round of the state tournament.
“We felt we had a really good game plan going into it this year,” Young said. “For one, I felt we matched up with them better than we necessarily did last year.”
She was right. Weatherford led 3-2 on an early 3-pointer by Addy Hoffman, but the Lady Jackets quickly took back the lead and never trailed again.
The visitors only scored those three points in the first quarter while KHS led by as many as 10 in the first half.
That came after a quick four-point burst that saw Addy Matthews nail a 3-pointer, Walker grab a steal and make a free throw, giving KHS a 20-10 advantage with 2:31 left in the quarter.
Weatherford scored the half’s final four points, but the Lady Jackets again mounted another burst and led 33-21 midway through the fourth.
That’s when the teetering began.
Weatherford scored seven straight points and was poised to make it a one-possession game with under 2:00 to play.
Standout Jordan Hoffman grabbed a missed layup by the Lady Jackets, turned and sprinted to the other end of the floor.
Just as she was going up to potentially make it a three-point game, Walker tied her up, denying her even a shot attempt.
“I said it even last year: Peyton is going to be the one to make big plays for us, whether it’s offense or defense, really just whatever the team needs,” Young said of the junior guard.
Walker’s play gave Kingfi sher the ball as the possession arrow pointed the Lady Jackets’ way.
She made two free throws 18 seconds later, two more to make it 38-30 with 14.7 seconds to go and then iced the game with two more clutch foul shots with 4.8 seconds to play.
In playing all 32 minutes, Walker had 15 points, two assists and four steals.
“She’s come out of her shell a little bit,” Young said. “I knew she’s always had it in her; I see it everyday in practice.
“But she’s really got that confidence about her. You can tell she’s almost got a little bit of swagger to her right now.”
Walker scored 17 points on the strength of five 3-pointers in Kingfisher’s 53-38 victory against Guymon in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, she was tasked with guarding the Lady Tigers’ ultra-quick guard Yeraldy Ruiz.
Ruiz scored seven points, but was just 2 of 12 from the field.
The Lady Jackets were 12 of 28 from 3-point range in the game.
Matthews made four of them as part of her gamehigh 20 points.
Against Weatherford’s lineup, KHS was just 3 of 10 from long range, but countered it by going 17 of 23 from the free throw line.
On top of Walker making all six of her attempts in the fourth, Matthews was 5 of 6.
As a team, KHS was 12 of 16 in the final quarter, helping hold off Weatherford’s rally.
The Lady Eagles had just 18 points through three quarters, but scored 17 in the fourth.
Addy Hoffman had seven of them and finished with a team-high 10 points.
Jordan Hoffman scored five of her nine in the fourth.
Another area that doomed KHS against Weatherford in past losses was rebounding.
The Lady Jackets won that battle 20-16 and gave up just three offensive boards.
Matthews had eight rebounds to go with her eight points.
Raegan Snider added four boards and three points while Kadyn Daugherty scored seven points and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
Young praised the play of the latter two, both sophomores.
“Rebounding is effort. The willingness to compete. The willingness to get in there and be physical and bang around,” she said.
“Those two do a really good job. They’re still young but I’m really excited with where they’re at and where they’re headed.”
KHS is now 13-3, which may not have seemed likely after last Tuesday’s 47-21 home loss to No. 3 Bethany.
“The girls did a really good job of bouncing back from the game on Tuesday,” Young said. “They really competed and they focused in on the little things.”