MacArthur pushed its lead to 16 with two free throws from Sydnee Stolz early in the third, then Henry later knocked down a 3-pointer. Khalia Austin then stole another pass for MacArthur and laid it in to make it 43-22 Lady Highlanders.
Dawkins’ layup finally ended the run, but McAlester never found any offensive consistency. The turnovers that plagued the Lady Buffs in the first half diminished after halftime, but better ball-handling didn’t lead to more points, and McAlester still trailed 47-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
McLain opened the fourth quarter with a jump shot off a pass from Dawkins. Scoring 18 for McAlester on Saturday, McLain continues to be her team’s best scoring threat, and across this season she’s looked more and more confident, aggressive and versatile as a shooter.
“Lacey puts a lot of pressure on herself, so she’s had to learn how to manage that and how to control it,” Burns said of McLain. “But Lacey has stepped up her game. That child will try to do anything that you ask her to do.”
Dawkins scored 12 for McAlester, knocking down two 3-pointers. Jackson scored 10 for MacArthur, and her ability to completely collapse McAlester’s interior defense made life far easier for outside-shooters like Sawyer and Henry.
“Paj, she’s a four-year starter for us,” Garza said of Jackson. “She’s matured, and she has a leadership role, and they know that everything kind of runs through her.”
Though McAlester got a steal on the opening possession of the game, the turnover didn’t lead to points, and on the opposite end Henry knocked down a 3-pointer for a 3-0 lead. Sawyer’s 3-pointer made it 6-2 MacArthur, then Thomas scored off an offensive rebound.
Stolz later knocked down another 3-pointer for MacArthur, but Shattee Robinson answered with a layup for the Lady Buffs. McLain banked one in to cut the lead to 4, but a layup by Sawyer and two free throws from Jackson pushed the lead back to 17-9.