Velma-Alma’s Rindi Alexander drives to the hoop during Saturday’s District 8 final against Empire.

The Lady Comets fell behind early in their district championship game against Empire, but eventually handled the Lady Bulldogs 56-36.

Now, V-A travels to Fletcher to face an Amber-Pocasset (21-4) squad that blew out Fletcher 64-33 and is ranked No. 8 in Class A.

The No. 15-ranked Lady Comets (17-5) have lost just one more game than Am-Po, but four of those defeats came against Healdton and Class 2A power Walters. The fifth loss was a single-point defeat in the Stephens County Tournament final against Marlow.

Most importantly, Velma-Alma beat Am-Po 54-48 in the semi-finals of the Citizens Bank of Velma Hoops Classic. Shelby Hays led V-A with 23 points in that game and McKenzie Cogswell had 10. Am-Po was led by senior Tayler McCrackin with 10.

Both squads feature a deep group of upper classmen, with McCrackin, Katie Osborn and Korie Hargus leading the charge for the Lady Panthers while Velma-Alma is paced by senior playmaker Rindi Alexander, Cogswell and Hays. Alexander struggled in the first meeting, but is the Lady Comets’ go-to player.

Should the Lady Comets beat Am-Po, they would face the winner of Cashion/Frontier on Saturday. Cashion (17-6) squeaked by Pioneer 43-42 in its district championship and Frontier (10-13) blew out Oilton 82-32 in its final. If V-A loses, it would play the winner of Pioneer and Oilton on Friday.

Bray-Doyle vs. Central High

BRAY — Central High might have turned some heads when it topped fellow strugglers Elmore City-Pernell in its district opener, but it faces an uphill battle against Bray-Doyle in today’s regional clash.

The Lady Donkeys trounced Paoli in the district opener, but fell to Wayne 62-51 in the final. B-D has to be licking its chops to face the Lady Bronchos, a team it beat three times this season.

The best game between the county rivals came on Day 3 of the Stephens County Tournament, when B-D overcame a sluggish start to post a 44-33 win. Brittany Cramton scored 19 and the Lady Donkeys had no problem getting to the basket. However, B-D missed a ton of open looks and struggled at the line.

The Lady Bronchos will need another solid performance from starting center Shayna Spivey, who dropped in 19 with a pair of 3-pointers to go along with six blocks in the SCT meeting.

“Shayna is our scoring threat and has been all season,” CHS head coach Chad Weldon said. “If she can get going early, it will take a lot of pressure off the other girls.”

CHS’ backcourt might prove to be the key, though, if Spivey can’t get going inside. Weldon has turned to freshmen Ashley Smith and Lyndsey Johnson when his upperclassmen have struggled. The duo, though prone to mistakes, is quick off the dribble and can get down the court in a hurry.

“We need less turnovers from our guards, that is a must,” Weldon said. “They are freshman and we have to live with whatever mistakes they make. Hopefully, they play like sophomores tomorrow night.”

Bray-Doyle hopes to make the fourth encounter with CHS more like the first and third meetings and less like the second.

“It will be pretty intense because of how many times we’ve played this year,” B-D head coach Jaicee Powers said. “They play tough and Shayna Spivey is pretty solid.”

Powers added that the play of Cramton will be important, but Brandi Goodrich will be an X-factor.

“Brandi is our floor leader and does a great job defensively and getting us into our sets,” Powers said. “She’s important for us because when we play good defense, we do well offensively.”

Should Bray-Doyle or Central High win, either team would face the loser of Bowlegs and Agra. Whoever loses will be done for the year.

Empire vs. Fletcher

EMPIRE — The Lady Bulldogs got off to a fast start in their district final, but wound up losing to Velma-Alma and now move on to face Fletcher in the loser’s bracket.

After drilling Wilson in the district opener, EHS struggled to contain V-A’s Shelby Hays and Rindi Alexander in the final. Fletcher (13-11) beat Fox in its district opener, but was shelled by Amber-Pocasset in the final.

Against V-A, EHS got 14 points from Morgan Sellers, but just 6 from Natalie Whitt, who poured on 26 against Wilson. EHS will need solid performances from Whitt and Jessica England if it hopes to make a bid for the area race.

Empire also struggled to take care of the ball against V-A and gave up some easy fast-break buckets. Empire head coach Rodney Strutton believes that rebounding will be the toughest test for his team.

“Fletcher crashes the boards really hard, not just with their post players, but with all five players,” Strutton said. “It’s going to take everyone pitching in on the boards to help limit their second chances.”

Look for Sellers to get a healthy amount of touches both inside and out. Against V-A, Sellers didn’t knock down any of her attempts from 3-point range, but she had several open looks.

“As Morgan goes, we go,” Strutton said. “When she hits shots, we seem to play well. She definitely has to have a good game.

It’s do-or-die for Empire, so should it beat Fletcher, it would face the loser of Agra and Bowlegs on Friday.

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