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Royals' fast start not enough to overcome Washington

Mar. 8—Community Christian was checking all the boxes to put itself in position for a big upset in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday.

The Royals landed the first punch on top-seeded Washington when Sadie Thrailkill hit an early corner 3-pointer to take a three-point lead. Then, Preslee Hartsock came off a screen and hit a step-back 3-pointer to extend the Royals' lead to two possessions.

Community Christian led by five after the first quarter and were tied going into the second half.

But in a game that featured game-changing runs from both sides, it was a late 17-2 run by Washington that ended up being the difference.

Community Christian's magical season ended in a 48-38 loss in the state semifinals.

The Royals had never been to the state tournament before, but this season they were one of the final four teams remaining in Class 3A. They close out the season with a 24-6 record.

With the game tied at halftime, Washington came out firing in the second half with nine straight points from Breanna Lindert.

Still, the Royals didn't fold and rallied back to close the third quarter and held a five-point lead early in the fourth. The Warriors took the lead back with under two-and-a-half minutes remaining and didn't look back.

Lindert and Kelby Beller combined to score 35 of the team's 48 points in the win. The Royals were led by Ava Bell, who scored 11 to go along with four rebounds.

With the win, Washington advances to face Idabel in the 3A state championship game on Saturday. That game will tip off at 6:45 p.m. at Jim Norick OKC Fairgrounds Arena.

Even after a disappointing ending to the season, Community Christian has plenty to look forward to in the future.

The Royals don't have a senior in their starting lineup and expect to return all five players next season. Three of their starters are juniors (Hartsock, Thrailkill and Hope Martin) and two are underclassmen (Laney Venables and Ava Bell).

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com