The Lady Cardinals sank 18 of 22 free throws and outscored Kell 27-13 in the final period, en route to the Region 7AAAAA home win.
A rematch of last year’s Region 5AAAA championship that Osborne won, the win gave the Lady Cardinals (13-2, 6-0) a two-game lead over Kell (10-2, 4-2) in the subregion standings.
The Lady Longhorns saw their eight-game winning streak, lasting more than a month, come to an end.
Malea Maye led Osborne with a double-double, totaling 18 points and 18 rebounds to go with four assists. Nikira Goings had eight of her 11 points in the decisive fourth quarter and added four assists and three steals. Zutorya Cook contributed 11 of her 15 points in the fourth while collecting five rebounds.
Defense played a key role for each team in the contest. With a 25-24 deficit 2 minutes into the third period, Kell’s full-court pressure, fueled by sisters China and Onyx Henderson and blocks from Caliya Robinson, ignited a 9-4 run that gave the Lady Longhorns their first lead of the contest and a 33-29 margin entering the fourth.
Erin McKinney, who had seven rebounds, three points and three steals off the bench, made a layup with 7:02 left in the game for a five-point Kell advantage, but Cook’s 3-pointer and Osborne’s switch to a pressure defense eventually led to the scoring change.
“I had scouted (Kell) a couple of times,” Osborne coach Melanie Samuel said. “I knew that we were going to be in a basketball game, and I knew those girls played hard and it was going to come down to the wire.
“We did a jump press where we jump the person that has the ball. Then we try to roll up on the next pass, and we ended up getting a few turnovers and we came down and scored some baskets.”
Kell continued to keep the game close in the fourth. Trailing 40-38, McKinney made two free throws, picked up a steal and scored on an easy layup to give the Lady Longhorns a 41-40 advantage.
However, Raven Brown, who totaled seven points and 13 rebounds for Osborne, made two three throws and the Lady Cardinals forced Kell to have to foul to stop the clock. But Osborne, which made 25 of 36 free throws overall, gradually pulled away and outscored Kell 16-5 over the final 3 minutes for the win.
A putback from Kayla Oden brought the Lady Longhorns to within 50-46 with 39.1 seconds remaining. Cook and Goings combined to go 6-for-6 from the line down the stretch.
“Once it got down to around 1:51, (Kell) started fouling us to see if they could gain an advantage there,” Samuel said. “That was a smart move, but (Tuesday) we went 18-for-22 in the fourth quarter from the free-throw line. And, I tell you, that’s the best we’ve shot free throws this whole season.”
Jazzmon Rouse had five points and 10 rebounds for Osborne, which led 14-12 at the end of the first quarter. The game was tied at 23-all at the half, but Kell took a 33-29 lead entering the fourth.
Robinson finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, and she also had seven blocked shots. Naomi Stuger added 11 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals for Kell, while China Henderson totaled six points and nine rebounds. Onyx Henderson had seven points, four rebounds and three steals. Nikki Eggers grabbed five rebounds.
“Pretty much what happened (Tuesday) was coach (Samuel’s) team played harder and better than my team did,” Kell coach Craig Hines said. “That’s the bottom line to what happened. We weren’t getting any of the loose balls, we weren’t getting any of the rebounds and the girls just didn’t make their shots.
“The effort was there for us, but obviously her team played harder and wanted this game more than we did. They’ve won the last two games on us. I do expect us to meet again down the road, so, hopefully, we’ll get a different outcome.”