VINITA — Kevi Luper of Adair lived up to her billing as the Gatorade Oklahoma girls’ basketball player of the year.
Luper had 28 points, 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the South all-stars to a 66-40 romp over the North in the 31st annual Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees Basketball Classic here Thursday night.
Luper, who has signed to play college basketball at Oral Roberts, was named the South MVP after hitting eight field goals, a pair of 3-point goals and six of seven free throws. She got 17 of her points in the first half.
And she rarely came out of the game.
The South romped despite suiting up only eight players. The North had a full 10-player roster.
She didn’t realize she was going to log so much playing time.
“I knew we were short, and my coach (Scott Winfield) told him (South coach Mark Sherrell of Colcord) that I could play the whole game,” Luper said. “I didn’t expect that — I was out of shape.”
Luper had been eyed by Oklahoma and Missouri, but both backed off after she suffered a series of injuries, including a broken hand earlier in basketball season.
But ORU and Colorado State stuck with her, and she opted for the Eagles.
“It’s a Christian school and I am a Christian, so it was a good fit,” she said.
The North led just once, 2-0 on a jumper by Vinita’s Kelby Fritz. Luper hit a bucket and a free throw to give the South a 4-2 edge.
A jumper by Grove’s Stacia Sarwinski tied the game at 4-4 with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.
A 12-footer by Luper started the South on a game-turning 13-3 run. That helped create an 18-9 lead at the end of the quarter.
The South bumped its lead to 11 (33-22) then carried a 49-31 edge into the final stanza.
A free throw by Afton’s Macy Gibson kicked off a 7-2 spree by the North that trimmed the deficit to 57-38 with 5:15 left.
However, treys by Luper and Oaks’ Tinelle Williams held the North at bay down the stretch.
Luper was the only player to score in double figures for either team.
Sarah Moore of Chouteau chipped in with nine points while Williams and Sammi Jo Place of Chouteau had seven each.
Tyler, a key cog in Vinita’s drive to the Class 4A state title, was the North’s MVP after finishing with eight points.
Margaret Pogue of Grove and Afton’s Darby Todd added six points each. Sarwinski had five.
South 18 17 16 17 — 66
North 9 13 9 11 — 42
South — Luper 28, Moore 9, Williams 7, Place 7, Cunningham 6, Shrum 6, Stone 5, Dove 0.
North — Tyler 8, Pogue 6, Todd 6, Sarwinski 5, Fritz 4, Gibson 4, Munson 3, Skinner 3, Carroll 2, Chapa 1.
3-point goals — Luper 2, Moore 1, Williams 1, Tyler 2, Skinner 1.