Quietly and inconspicuously, the Chelsea Lady Dragons have been advancing in the high school basketball playoffs.

They have reached the area tournament, the third and final stage on the road to the state tournament.

They have progressed to this level without the trappings of state recognition, without state ranking.

But not without talent.

The Lady Dragons will take an 18-9 record to Muskogee tonight to put against Keys in a 6:30 elimination game at the Muskogee Civic Center.

Keys stands at 9-16. A victory would send Chelsea into the area second round on Friday.

Chelsea is the lone Rogers County team still playing without state ranking.

The Lady Dragons have put together a late push, spearheaded by 6-foot junior Sierra McSpadden, and aided along by a starting lineup loaded with versatility and youth.

Theirs has been a story of revitalization under first-year coach Stephanie Shieldnight.

A year ago, the Lady Dragons were 11-14.

This year, with McSpadden, juniors Rachel Green and Katy James, and senior Bree Winters providing the nucleus, the Lady Dragons have progressed at the right time.

McSpadden is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Winters is setting up all her teammates, averaging more than 10 assists per start.

They own a victory over Claremore Sequoyah, still alive in the 4A area tournament, and they finished second in their last invitational of the season, the Caney Valley tournament in January.

After dropping a 61-38 decision to Kansas in the district tournament, the Lady Dragons have reeled off three wins in a row in the regional.

At Oologah, the Lady Mustangs survived a regional tournament finals loss to Fort Gibson on its home floor, 64-56, to reach the 4A area tournament tonight at Coweta.

Oologah is No. 16 in the coaches poll for OKrankings.com and will take on Muldrow.

The Lady Mustangs have fashioned their 17-7 record with balanced scoring. Lachelle Hotfelt leads the team in scoring (14-point average), steals (5 per game) and assists (7 per).

But she has had plenty of help on the offensive end from Caitlin Linihan (12 points) and Cassidee Young 10.5).

Like Chelsea, Oologah has turned things around under a new coach. The Lady Mustangs were 13-13 last year, but under Matt Sweeney have rebounded to their Top 20 plateau.

Claremore Sequoyah’s Lady Eagles closed with five victories in their last six regular-season games, but then fell in the regional tournament.

Still, the Lady Eagles have the No. 13 position in the 3A coaches poll, and go up against Blackwell tonight in Stillwater.

Megan Fuller, another standout junior in the county, is the leading scorer for the Lady Eagles, averaging 12 points to go along with her 10 rebounds.

The Verdigris girls saw a late-season streak come to an end in last weekend’s regional finals.

The Lady Cardinals blew a lead and let Eufaula slip away with a 37-35 verdict, ending a 14-game winning streak.

Verdigris now begins the formidable task of wading through a three-game area field if it is to realize its goal of reaching the state tournament.

Tonight, the Lady Cardinals and their 18-6 record and No. 6 ranking, match up with Beggs (13-12) in the 3A area at Skiatook.

The most successful girls team in the county, Claremore’s Lady Zebras, face the most intriguing opponent with plenty on the line.

Claremore, riding a nine-game winning streak with a 22-1 record, is paired against defending Class 6A state champion Sapulpa.

Claremore and 24-1 Sapulpa square off at 6:30 tonight in Catoosa with a state tournament sport riding on the outcome.

Aside from the 3A Verdigris boys on Friday night at Skiatook, the Claremore girls have the lone winners bracket game involving county teams.

The top-ranked Verdigris boys put their No. 1 ranking and a 22-3 record on the line at Skiatook against Adair (No. 3 and 24-2). It is the third year in a row the two teams have met in the area title game, with Verdigris winning the previous matches.