Broncos punch ticket to Class 6A State Tournament with 61-48 win over Norman

Basketball, Girls Basketball, Winter Sports

Trey Hunter

March 4, 2024
The Mustang Broncos pose for a photo following their 61-48 win over Norman in the Area Consolation championship on Saturday at Shawnee High School. With the win, the Broncos punched their ticket to the 2024 6A State Tournament next week. (Photo by Trey Hunter)

SHAWNEE – The Mustang Broncos have won 20 games this season, but it was four of the team’s losses that prepared them for Saturday’s Area Consolation Championship.

One in particular helped ignite a wave of momentum the Broncos needed this late in the season.

A lunch pail loss to two-time defending state champion Edmond North in the Area title game on Tuesday night at Shawnee High School gave Mustang a boost of confidence that was taken out on the Norman Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

“Even though we didn’t beat them, they have made us better,” Mustang coach Katie Smith said of the Huskies. “And to be honest, I feel like they’re a reason why we won tonight. Because of them, we can handle games like this.”

The Broncos punched their ticket to the Class 6A State Tournament with a 61-48 victory over the Tigers, capturing the Area consolation championship with defense, rebounding, and effort. A chip on the team’s shoulder helped as well.

Mustang guard Parker Simonsen (Sr.) drives past a Norman defender during the Broncos’ 61-48 win at Shawnee High School. Simonsen and the Broncos clinched a spot in the 6A State Tournament with the victory. (Photo by Trey Hunter)

“We didn’t make it last year so there was a little bit of revenge,” senior guard Parker Simonsen said after the team showered its coaches with water bottles as a postgame celebration “We didn’t even have the option of not winning. We said we’re going to win and get to state.”

Simonsen, a UCO-signee, scored nine points (3-for-7), grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out two assists in the win. She was key in keeping the Broncos calm late in the game as Norman tried to surge back.

“It was a team win all the way around,” she said. “We have another week of basketball now, so we’re definitely going to take advantage of it.”

Sophomore guard Mya Alston, who has established herself as one of the top 2026 prospects in the state, scored a team-high 22 points (7-for-19) with three rebounds and one assist. She and Cherish Haywood (Jr.) combined to play solid defense against Norman star Keeley Parks (Jr.), limiting touches and denying her the ball throughout the game.

Mya Alston (So.) sizes up a Norman defender during Mustang’s 61-48 Area Consolation Championship win on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Shawnee High School. Alston finished with a team-high 22 points in the victory. (Photo by Trey Hunter)

Parks, one of the top players in the country, shot just 9-for-23 from the floor on route to a game-high 29 points. She didn’t make a bucket until :02 left in the first quarter.

Haywood was solid on the offensive end as well, finishing with 14 points (7-for-13), seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists.

“I feel like we played amazing defense,” Smith said. “We told them she (Parks) can’t beat us by herself. She averages close to 30 and I think we held her under that, which is tough to do.”

Smith was especially pleased with her team’s physicality – a trait she knew the Broncos would need after suffering a loss to Edmond North in the Bank 7 Mustang Holiday Classic championship in December.

“Ever since they beat us in that game, we changed everything we do defensively in practice as far as being physical,” she said. “We knew we had to take it up a notch. Nobody has played them four times but us and they’re the toughest team in the state to prepare for. In turn, they prepared us for these games.”

Mustang jumped ahead of Norman in the first period, opening the game with a 19-4 run before a Parks putback at the buzzer made it 19-6 through eight minutes.

Alston scored eight in the period while Eliana Valentin Florance (Jr.) scored five of her nine points to help ignite the team’s early run. Haywood and Christal Long (Jr.) added six points.

Long also helped establish Mustang’s early dominance on the glass, grabbing five of her game-high 11 rebounds early in the first quarter. She finished with seven points, three blocks, and two assists.

“I feel like I’m that dog,” she said after the game. “I like to bring the aggression and grab the rebounds. If I only have five or six, I’m mad. Teams always need someone to hype people up and trash talk, and I feel like I bring that for us.”

The Broncos out-rebounded the Tigers 20-10 in the first half and 30-22 overall. They finished with 16 boards on the offensive end, leading to double digit second-chance points.

Parks got going in the second quarter and over the course of the middle two periods she helped Norman eventually pull within seven points. She combined for 18 points in the second and third quarters before being held to seven in the fourth.

Free-throw shooting was key down the stretch as Mustang went a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe. Smith’s team was a little shaky at first, but staying composed in the second half was also a factor.

Cherish Haywood (Jr.) looks to make a pass over Norman guard Keeley Parks (Jr.) during Mustang’s 61-48 win over the Tigers on March 2, 2024, at Shawnee High School. Haywood scored 14 points in the victory. (Photo by Trey Hunter)

“It’s hard to prepare for this moment,” she said. “It’s almost like they were playing outside of themselves a little bit early in the game. We had to figure out a way to calm it down and just keep attacking. I feel like we did much better later in the game.”

The Broncos assisted on 10 of 21 makes while turning the ball over just 16 times. They went 18-for-20 overall from the free-throw line.

Mustang makes its third trip to the 6A State Tournament under Smith, who is coaching her fifth season at MHS. She made sure to point out how big of an impact this year’s upperclassmen have made.

“These seniors mean a lot to me,” she said. “I used to coach against them when they were little… They have sacrificed a lot and have all accepted their roles. It’s just nice having a team with absolutely no selfishness. Everyone is proud of each other.

“This really is a special moment.”

The 6A State Tournament brackets were released on Sunday afternoon, matching the Broncos up with Edmond Memorial in the first round.

The Bulldogs went 22-3 this season, finishing first in District 3. They feature a dynamic backcourt, including Oregon-commit Janiyah Williams (Jr.) and Avery Hjelmstad (Jr.), who holds offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Utah.

Mustang and Edmond Memorial are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday from the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. The winner plays either Sand Springs (19-7) or Edmond North (24-1) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the semifinals.

Owasso (21-5) and Putnam City North (20-6) tip off the State Tournament at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, followed by Putnam City West (24-1) vs Bixby (20-7) at 6 p.m. The Sandites and Huskies cap Day 1 at 9 p.m.

Published by trey hunter

Trey Hunter is the owner and publisher of the Mustang Sports Review. He graduated from Mustang High School in 2006 before graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a journalism degree in 2011. He has covered Mustang sports for multiple publications as well as high school sports and professional basketball for other outlets. Contact Trey for story ideas or reach out with information. PHONE: (405) 659-9898 EMAIL:

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