SLOW START WOES: Bartlesville Lady Bruins trail big early, battle back in home loss

·4 min read
Bartlesville High senior guard Kate Gronigan, right, goes all out to defend a shot during Tuesday's home battle against Bixby High.
Bartlesville High senior guard Kate Gronigan, right, goes all out to defend a shot during Tuesday's home battle against Bixby High.

It wasn’t for a lack of determination.

It wasn’t for a lack of preparation.

Whatever it was, a tentative start out of the gate on Tuesday forced the Bartlesville High Lady Bruin basketball team to play catch-up the entire game.

But, the visiting Bixby Lady Spartans refused to slacken their pace until the outcome had been decided.

Bixby — the No. 4-ranked team in the state — walked away from the Bruin Fieldhouse with a 65-39 victory, handing Bartlesville its third-straight loss in the Frontier Valley Conference.

In reality, the first and third quarters really made the difference.

Bixby (11-3) bolted to a 21-7 lead in the opening period, and outscore Bartlesville in the third stanza, 13-5.

In the other two quarters, Bixby outpointed Bartlesville by only four points, 31-27.

The Lady Bruins, who are coached by Justyn Shaw, boasted plenty of balanced scoring, led by Kaelynn “K.K.” Duncan with nine points.

T’Keitha Valentine added seven points, followed by Payten Pregler with six. Kate Gronigan and Maider Ruiz each scored five.

The Lady Bruins (3-9) dialed up six three-pointers made by five different players.

Gracy Wernli and Gentry Baldwin buried 20 and 17 points, respectively, with three three-pointers each, for Bixby.

The initial stroke of the give-and-take favored the Lady Bruins, who got the ball first but missed a layup.

That missed opportunity loomed larger and larger as Bixby scooted out to an 11-0 lead, including a Wernli trey.

Bartlesville then got on the board on a deuce by Duncan.

After Bixby stretched back to an 11-point advantage, 13-2, Duncan dropped in a three-pointer — off an assist from Grace McPhail — to cut the margin back to a single digit, 13-5.

Within the next few possessions, Ragen Hodge made a two-point deposit for Bartlesville to again trim the gap to eight, 15-7. Gronigan assisted on the shot.

But, Bixby steamed to a 6-0 run to end the first period.

Bartlesville began to link up its sync in the second period — but just had too much ground to make up.

Valentine opened the second quarter scoring by hitting two free throws. For the game, Bartlesville knocked down 9-of-10 charity tosses.

The Lady Bruins made their biggest spurt early in the second quarter on back-to-back three-pointers by Grongian and Duncan — both of them off assists from Valentine.

With just those two flicks of the wrist, Bartlesville trailed by only 11 points, 26-15.

All the Lady Bruins needed was another couple of buckets to gather momentum.

But, at this critical juncture, a Lady Bruin turnover reversed the flow.

Bixby strung together an 8-0 run to burst to its biggest lead, 34-15.

Valentine finally ended the run — going most the length of the court after battling for a loose ball.

By halftime Bixby led by 20, 40-20.

Bartlesville at least salvaged one positive in winning the fourth quarter, 14-13.

Ruiz opened the periods scoring with two free throws and Pregler scored on a back-door layup off the a feed from Valentine.

Later in the period, Ruiz canned a three-pointer, and Pregler and Kadance Barnett both made layups.

Bartlesville fans also took heart in a powerful blocked shot by Duncan.

Next up, the Lady Bruins play this weekend in the Carl Albert tourney.

Bartlesville opens play at 4 p.m. Thursday against Westmoore. The Lady Bruins will be back on the court at either 10 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

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Bixby 65, Bartlesville 39

Bixby 21-18-13-13—-65

Bartlesville 7-13-5-14—39

Bixby

Gracy Wernli 20, Gentry Baldwin 17, Meredith Mayes 10, Alyssa Nielsen 8, Brynn Daniel 4, Haley Prince 2, Ava Casper 2, Sarah Beltran 2. Totals: 25 9-17 65.

Bartlesville

Kaelynn Duncan 3 1-2 9, T’Keitha Valentine 2 2-2 7, Payten Pregler 2 2-2 6, Kate Gronigan 1 2-2 5, Maider Ruiz 1 2-2 6, Mikka Chambers 1 0-0 3, Kadance Barnett 1 0-0 2, Ragen Hodge 1 0-0 2. Totals: 12 9-10 39.

This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: Hoops: Bartlesville girls host Bixby

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