TERRELL LESTER

Sports Editor



Enduring a season-ending, five-game losing streak would be cause for concern ... a source of pain ... for some coaches.

Chelsea’s Charlie Hadley, though, is not one to push the panic button.

Forget the losing streak.

“Actually, we’ve been playing pretty well,” Hadley said.

He and the Chelsea Lady Dragons put the losing streak behind them when the “second season” began last weekend.

In the first game of the post-season, the district tournament, Hadley’s Lady Dragons played like he expected.

They played well.

Chelsea defeated Sperry, 48-44, at Sperry, in a Class 3A district title game that propelled the Lady Dragons into Thursday’s regional tournament ... at home.

“Usually, you can single somebody out, but right now, everybody’s pretty much doing what we’re asking them to do,” Hadley said.

On Thursday night, he will be asking them to defeat Kansas.

The Lady Comets are a perennial toughie in girls basketball. And this season, they are again ranked in the Top 10, and boast an 18-4 record.

“They may be playing as well as anybody on this side of the state. Including Verdigris and Adair. They’re really playing well,” Hadley said.

There was no trace of awe in Hadley’s voice. Just respect.

“We’re really not intimidated by anybody,” Hadley said.

“We’ve played enough teams home and home, like Adair and Verdigris, which are ranked, like, 2 and 4.

“And, something that we’ve done in preseason that we feel is beneficial to us is, we’ve scrimmaged some of the top teams in 5A and 6A,” he said.

He ticked off preseason tests such as Union and Owasso, Claremore and Chouteau ... Top 10 programs all.

“I think that’s why we respect people that we play. But I don’t think we’re intimidated,” he said.

During the last five games of the regular season, Hadley recalled his team trailing once-beaten Adair by seven points at halftime, and trailing unbeaten Verdigris by seven after three quarters.

“We haven’t finished off a few games the way we’d like to,” he said. “Either kids are getting in foul trouble and making too many turnovers. But we’re pretty pleased. Being in the winners’ bracket is always a good thing.”

To survive the district with a win and advance in the winners’ bracket required some doing.

The Lady Dragons, who defeated Sperry, 59-41, in their only regular-season meeting, fell behind, 16-3, in the first quarter last weekend before gaining momentum.

“The thing that I probably like the most about us right now is the fact that we have gotten behind in double digits several different times here lately,” Hadley said. “And we’ve shown a little resolve, and some character, and we’ve stayed hooked up. And we’ve battled back, and either we won the game, like we did at Sperry, or we’ve closed the gap against two pretty good teams in Adair and Verdigris.”

Like many area teams, Chelsea had a number of games postponed during this winter of ice and snow. The Lady Dragons were forced to close the regular season with five games in eight days.

Hadley welcomed the respite from Saturday’s district game to Thursday’s regional start at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s good, not so much just for the break, but the fact that we can get back in the gym and try to work on a few things that we need to be improving on,” he said.

The way Chelsea’s playing, there’s not much room for improvement.

Hadley went through his starting lineup.

“Katie James is doing a good job of handling the ball for us against the press. Kasha (Kolb) and Bree (Winters) have been knocking down threes for us. They’re two of our better perimeter players.

“Then, of course, Sierra McSpadden is operating in the post, along with Rachel Green, who’s been playing pretty good here for us.”

McSpadden is the Lady Dragons’ leading scorer at 18.5, and Winters is right behind at 13.8.

“It’s really a team thing,” Hadley said.

He has maintained a positive attitude during the final two weeks of the regular season, a season that opened with a 6-3 run before Christmas.

He owes much of that optimism on attitude.

“We just feel like that we can go out and compete,” he said. “I think it’s paid dividends here at the end.”