collinsville cardinal

ADA – Collinsville coach Brad Cantrell knew the impact of Thursday’s performance from his young Cardinal squad.

Cantrell had seen his team struggle in the early season as Collinsville's inexperience played a key role in a six-game losing skid. But since the calendar turned the page to 2020, the Cardinals seemed to have turned a corner. After a win over rival Skiatook last week and a near road victory earlier in the week against Claremore, Cantrell’s squad erased an 18-point deficit and stunned Class 5A No. 4 Ardmore, 61-56, in the first round of the East Central Oklahoma Classic.

Kelly Ellis led Collinsville on a career night with seven three-pointers as the junior finished with a game-high 25 points. Abbey Stamper added 17 points for the Cardinals, who advanced to Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal against either Ada or NW Classen.

“It’s huge,” said Cantrell, whose team improved to 3-7 on the season. “Nobody gave us a chance to win this game. But once we made a couple of shots, we started to believe ‘hey, we can do this.’ I’m just so happy for the girls. They’ve worked so hard…This is a program-changing win.”

The Tigers (8-3) came out swinging as they led Collinsville 31-13 in the second quarter. But the Cardinals chipped away as Ellis and Stamper combined for 10 points in the quarter and cut the deficit to 31-20 by halftime.

Cantrell and his staff made some changes on their zone defense, which proved to slow down Ardmore’s offensive attack in the second half. Collinsville scored the first 11 points of the third quarter and tied the game with an 18-0 run. A pair of Addison Wickman 3-pointers gave the Cardinals a 43-42 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Ardmore regained a nine-point lead in the final stanza before the resilient Cards continued to fight back. Ellis delivered another three-pointer, one of her five treys in the second half, as Collinsville again rallied and eventually took the lead. The Cardinals finished 18-of-21 from the free throw line, including a perfect 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

“The girls just came out and played loose,” Cantrell said. “Ardmore is super athletic. It’s a really good win for us.”

Reagan McCurley paced the Tigers with 16 points.