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March 14, 2014

Adair advances on last-second FTs

BETHANY, OK — Keni Jo Lippe didn't know she'd be stepping to the line Friday with her team's season hanging in the balance.

But she was ready for it.

Lippe drained a pair of free throws with 0.5 seconds on the clock to propel Adair past Heritage Hall, 59-57, in a Class 3A girls state semifinal at the Sawyer Center on the Southern Nazarene University campus.

"I knew I had to make them," Lippe said. "I had to do it, so I did."

The top-ranked Lady Warriors (28-1) advanced to their second state title game in three years, where they will play No. 2 Alva (27-2) at 7:30 p.m. at the State Fairgrounds Arena in Oklahoma City Saturday. Adair will be seeking its fourth state championship overall and its first since 2009.

Adair took possession with 17.9 seconds remaining against Heritage Hall with the two teams tied at 57. The ball found its way to the freshman phenom along the left baseline. Lippe drove and put up a wobbly shot that was offline, but collected her own rebound and was hacked.

"I'd missed a lot earlier in the game, but when I stepped to the line, God put something over me and said 'You're going to make these,'" Lippe, who was 6 of 11 at the free-throw line, said.

Lippe led the Lady Warriors with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but perhaps the best player on the court Friday night was Heritage Hall senior Erika Wakefield. Wakefield tallied 35 points and kept the Lady Chargers in the game almost singlehandedly.

"She's unbelievable," AHS head coach Scott Winfield said. "I think we're good defensively. I've always taken pride in our defense, and I did everything we could do to stop her, and we really didn't stop her. The best player we've played all year, by far."

Heritage Hall took a 50-49 lead after a pair of steals and finishes by Wakefield with less than two minutes to play.

The game was close from the opening tip, and neither team led by more than four points during the contest. The teams traded the lead and tied the score on several occasions in the second half, but neither could deliver a finishing blow. The teams tied at 53, 55 and 57 inside of two minutes before Lippe's heroics.

Junior Kylie Looney scored 14 points and collected six rebounds for Adair. She and Wakefield traded treys in the second quarter to help the Lady Warriors take a 23-22 halftime lead.

Rendi Rogers hit a pair of big treys and finished with six points and three assists. Fellow senior Jenny Fleming scored all five of her points and snared three of her four rebounds in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Molly Kerr continued her dominant streak in the interior, racking up 11 points and nine rebounds. Through two state tournament games, the senior is averaging 8.5 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Kerr is one of three senior starters on the squad who will have a chance to take home a gold ball Saturday. They are four-time state qualifiers but have yet to claim a ring, though Winfield is excited for the chance.

"When you're here every year, you don't get nearly as rattled," he said.

Lippe, on the other hand, will be playing in her first-ever high school state title game.

"It's amazing, and it's really good for us," Lippe said. "We're the No. 1 team in the state and we've had a target on our back this whole season. Just to make it here is a great feeling."

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