Lady Huskies' postseason run ends

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A very good high school basketball season that had taken on magical possibilities came to an end Friday, March 10 for the Pawhuska Lady Huskies, as they lost in the state 2A semifinals to Howe by a score of 74-48.

The 2022-23 Lady Huskies became the first Pawhuska High School girls basketball team ever to make the state tournament, and they finished the season with a record of 26 wins, 5 losses. Pawhuska won its first game in the state tournament, a quarterfinal matchup with Preston High School, by a score of 56-30 on March 7. It then ran into a Howe team that played inspired basketball.

“They shot lights out,” Pawhuska Head Coach Dave Cash said of Howe. “They just got on fire.”

Howe lost the state final the next day, to No. 1 Dale, by a score of 48-23. Howe finished the season with a record of 25 wins, 7 losses, and Dale took the title with a record of 31 wins, 2 losses.

Pawhuska began the postseason with a record of 20 wins, 3 losses. The Lady Huskies had won the last 7 games of the regular season, but they dropped their first postseason game to Tonkawa in district play by a score of 48-46. PHS then defeated Commerce by a score of 47-41 and, when presented with another shot at Tonkawa in the regional tournament at Enid, whipped the Lady Buccaneers, 49-26.

In Area Tournament games, Pawhuska beat Fairview, 55-30, and Afton, 57-48, before edging Merritt, 47-44, to earn a berth in the state tournament.

Cash acknowledged in a telephone conversation Sunday that it was a big deal for the Lady Huskies to be one of the final four teams standing in Class 2A girls basketball for the season just concluded.

“We’ve opened quite a few eyes to what we do,” Cash said of his team, anticipating that expectations for Pawhuska’s girls team will likely be high at the beginning of the 2023-24 season. The Lady Huskies play a scrappy, defense-oriented brand of ball that involves pressuring opponents and capitalizing on their mistakes.

“It’s hard and we’re just now getting over it,” he said regarding the adjustment to the end of the season. Sunday was a big day for college basketball games across the nation, with fans watching conference championship contests. Cash said he was watching no basketball at the moment. After months of coaching and watching game film, he was temporarily disengaged.

This week is Spring Break.

Cash explained that both the Junior Varsity and Junior High girls teams for Pawhuska Public Schools did very well during the 2022-23 season, and numerous talented players are likely to make their way to the varsity program in coming seasons.

“We expect to be back next year,” he said. He added that his players during the 2022-23 season had been aware of the interest in girls basketball they were helping to cultivate with their achievements.

“It hasn’t been lost on them,” he said.

Photo Caption: Hannah Reynolds, No. 2, makes a free throw during Pawhuska High School's 56-30 win March 7 over Preston in a state quarterfinal game in the girls 2A tournament. Pawhuska went on to lose Friday, March 10 to Howe in a semifinal game by a score of 74-48. The 2022-23 Lady Huskies were the first PHS girls basketball team ever to make the eight-team state tournament.