Sunday, February 25, 2024

Stailee Heard’s late basket lifts Sapulpa past Holland Hall in classic 5A girls final

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NORMAN — Sapulpa’s Stailee Heard and Holland Hall’s Elise Hill delivered one of the best individual matchups ever seen in a state championship high school basketball game Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.

Although they had plenty of help from teammates to turn the game into a classic, it was Heard’s basket with four seconds left that lifted Sapulpa past Holland Hall 75-74 for the Class 5A girls state title.

Heard, an Oklahoma State signee, had 41 points and eight rebounds. She was 14-of-22 from the field with four 3s and was 9-of-10 on free throws with four assists. Hill, a University of Tulsa signee, had 36 points with six 3s, was 10-of-13 on free throws and had nine rebounds plus three assists.

“I love laying against Elise,” Heard said. “We’ve been playing with each other ever since we were in second or third grade. I respect her a lot. She’s a heck of an an athlete. I love playing against players like her.”

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East No. 1 Sapulpa (25-2) won its sixth girls basketball title and 10th overall for its athletic program. It’s the fifth state title overall and third at Sapulpa as a head coach for Darlean Calip, who also won two at Jenks.

“What a great high school basketball game,” Calip said. “I’m super excited for our program and Holland Hall.”

Holland Hall (24-4) was in its first girls state basketball title game in its sixth appearance over seven years as an OSSAA member. Dutch coach Crystal Lawson was a former assistant for Calip at Sapulpa before being hired by Holland Hall in 2008.

Sapulpa never led in the second half until Heard’s winning basket.

After Hill made two free throws with 31 seconds left to extend the Dutch’s lead to 74-71, Sapulpa freshman Riki McQuarters scored on a follow shot with 12.3 seconds remaining and was fouled. McQuarters missed the tying free throw, but the rebound was knocked out of bounds off Holland Hall with 8.2 seconds left.

After a timeout, Heard took the inbounds pass, drove left into the lane and launched her 12-foot shot that climbed over the rim and through the net. Holland Hall, without any timeouts left, could only manage a 55-foot desperation shot that faded right and Sapulpa’s on-court celebration began.

On the winning basket, Calip said she designed the play for Heard to be a decoy and to get the ball inside to McQuarters, “but she was covered, Stailee was open and she made the play.”

Holland Hall led 42-34 at halftime as Hill had 24 points, with 6-of-7 on 3s, and Heard 16 points. The Dutch’s biggest lead was 11 late in the half.

“We weren’t staying to our game plan,” Calip said. “We gave up too many 3s, they were 10-for-15 from the 3-point line. We knew they couldn’t sustain that but we had to do a better job defending that.

“I just challenged them, ‘If you guys want to win you’ve got to stop the 3-ball. The good thing about it is were down eight points and we’ve got two quarters. If you want it, you’ve got to fight for it.’ And that’s what they did.”

One of the halftime adjustments to stop the Dutch’s 3-point barrage was to send Heard to defend Hill. Holland Hall was only 2-of-9 on 3s after halftime and Hill was 0-of-4.

“I put Stailee on her to give us some extra length and athleticism,” Calip said and added, “to limit her opportunities and try to force someone else to try and beat us.”

Heard said, “I believe I can stop anyone. Going out there I was face-guarding her and she (Hill) told me, `Why are you guys face-guarding me, I’m exhausted. I knew that was it or her so when she got the ball I just guarded the 3 and made her drive.”

Holland Hall’s lead was 66-62 midway through the fourth quarter before Heard’s 3-point play and another basket tied the game at 67 with 2:44 left.

Ava Casper’s 3 from the left corner at 1:22 regained the lead for Holland Hall at 70-67. Twenty seconds later, Heard’s driving basket cut the lead to 1. Casper sank two free throws that were matched by another Heard basket that made it 72-71 with 35 seconds left, setting up the dramatic finish.

It was a much different championship game than Sapulpa’s last title in 2021 when the Chieftains led by 11 at halftime and won 58-49 over Tahlequah.

“This was a dogfight for us,” Calip said. “This one we had to fight for.”

After the game, Lawson visited Sapulpa’s locker room to congratulate Calip and her players.

“What a great game,” said Lawson, who won a state title as a player in a one-point decision for Jenks in 1991. “I would’ve hated for either team to lose that game. If we had come out on the winning end, I would have hated it for them. I thought both teams competed, the sportsmanship was great. You couldn’t have asked for anything better in high school basketball.

“And to witness two outstanding players (Heard and Hill) compete, what a fun game. I’m proud of how my kids fought and competed.”

Other top performers included Holland Hall’s Sophia Regalado (18 points, 4-of-6 on 3s) and Stailee’s sister, Tyla, a junior who had 20 points. Stailee and Tyla also were starters on the 2021 title team.

“It’s what we dreamed of,” Tyla Heard said. “This is exactly how we wanted it to end.”

And it was a fitting ending for Stailee Heard.

Calip said, “I told her, ‘What a way to go out. Your senior year, last-second shot.’ She made the winning shot — that’s the perfect exclamation point on her career, this season, and just what she’s meant for us the last four years.”


Holland Hall;17;25;14;18;—;74


Holland Hall (24-4): Hill 36, Regalado 18, Casper 10, Johnson 6, Fugate 2, Johnson 2.

Sapulpa (25-2): S. Heard 41, T. Heard 20, Bilby 8, Adkisson 2, Re. McQuarters 2, Ri. McQuarters 2.

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