The Claremore Christian Lady Warriors completed a perfect regular season in girls basketball for the first time in school history with 60-32 victory over Riverfield Country Day School (Tulsa) last Friday.
"We were all a little emotional," Claremore Christian coach Katie Schulze said. "It's a special group of girls who have played together for several years and work so well as a team. They play very unselfish basketball. They knew what they wanted from the start of the season. Our strategy has been to take it one game at a time, and it worked. These girls are playing some of their best basketball ever."
Claremore Christian (13-0) will host Prism Education (Fayetteville, Ark.) in a Class 1A HCAA Green Country regional semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The winner of that game will face the winner of Bradford Christian (Pryor) and Tyro Christian (Kansas) for the regional championship on Monday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 p.m. at Wright Christian Academy in Tulsa.
Both regional semifinal winners automatically qualify for the state tournament. The semifinal losers play for a state spot on Monday, Feb. 10, at 8:30 p.m. at Wright Christian.
Sophomore guard Hannah Schulze, daughter of the coach, and junior post Kaylee Blair provide a strong inside-outside duo and have done that since their elementary school days.
Schulze leads the team with averages of 17 points, 10 assists, and 6 steals per game. Blair is just behind in scoring at 16.8 per game while averaging 8 rebounds.
"Hannah and Kaylee play extremely well together," coach Schulze said. "They know and feed off each other on the court very well. Hannah's passing ability has also improved since last year."
Senior Brooklyn Woods is another solid all-around player. Woods averages 14.2 points and 8 rebounds per game. She also shoots 79 percent at the free-throw line.
"Brooklyn brings great leadership to the team," coach Schulze said. "She is our hardest worker and is always encouraging her teammates to get better. She definitely leads by example."
Senior Jayde Mullins averages 8.3 points per game and brings versatility to the table. Mullins uses her quickness to get easy buckets in the transition game and as a stalwart on the defensive end.
"Jayde is playing some of her basketball of her career and scoring more than ever this season," coach Schulze said. "She moves her feet well and isn't afraid to get in there and rebound."
McKenna Mitchell is another senior that may not put up the big scoring totals, but she brings plenty of passion to the team despite being just 5-feet tall.
"McKenna is going to give it 110 percent night in and night out," coach Schulze said. "She works hard every practice and game. She isn't afraid to get in there and fight. You can almost always count on her boxing out every single time."
The Lady Warriors made it all the way to state final last season but fell to Liberty Academy (Shawnee), 51-35.
Those two teams are ranked first (Liberty) and second (Claremore Christian) in the final coaches rankings. That could mean a rematch, but coach Schulze said she knows there is still work to be done for that to occur.
"Definitely looking like a big possibility," coach Schulze said. "We need to continue to stay focused on our goals, work hard in the final practices, remain calm, not let the nerves get the better of us and do the little things well."
NOTE: The Claremore Christian boys will be in the 1A Frontier regional with Immanuel Lutheran (Broken Arrow) and Cornerstone Christian Academy (Owasso). Two of the three will advance to state from the round-robin format.
The Warriors will be at home for both of their games with 8 p.m. start times (Friday against Immanuel and Saturday against Cornerstone). Immanuel and Cornerstone play Monday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. at Wright Christian.