A season that will forever be linked to the tragedy of the November plane crash that killed coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and program supporters Olin and Paula Branstetter culminated nearly five months later with celebration.
With hugs. With tears of joy. With smiles.
“It was like that fairy-tale ending for us,” Young said.
Also from Gina: Morning After Blog: Breaking down Oklahoma State’s WNIT run
Yesterday’s WNIT championship win for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team was about so much more than basketball, and I wrote it as such in my story in Sunday’s Oklahoman.
But understandably lost in the shuffle of such an emotional win–and journey–was just how well the Cowgirls played during the WNIT. So let’s look purely at basketball for a bit and break down this postseason run for the Cowgirls.
From John Klein at the Tulsa World: Cowgirls’ emotional season has a happy ending
Littell said he couldn’t keep thinking about his friends and family throughout Saturday’s game.
“It’s been a long, tough year,” said Littell.
Budke’s wife Shelley continued to sit in her regular seats up behind OSU’s bench the entire season.
She got to help cut down the nets after the WNIT Championship Game.
“That was really special,” said Littell. “She’s a special lady.
“She’s been a rock for us all season.”
From the AP: Oklahoma State ends tragic season with WNIT title
From Chase Glorfeld at the Idaho State Journal: Oklahoma State women get Hollywood ending
Stories of “tragedy to triumph” are maniacally over-used in Hollywood and mainstream media and frankly have lessened the impact and importance of tragic occasions that occur in our own lives.But on Saturday, something that transcends while at the same time defines that cliché took place in Stillwater, Okla.
I really don’t know if such a terrible story when it started in November could have had much better of an ending than what happened in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. The wife of late head coach Kurt Budke, Shelley, provided the final snip of the WNIT nets and the Cowgirls reigned victorious.
At Big 12 media day last October, Kurt Budke sounded like he almost couldn’t wait to be at the same event a year in the future. He was excited about the young talent on his Oklahoma State team and felt sure that the players’ growth potential was very, very strong.
That’s the image I will always keep in my mind of Budke: smiling and looking ahead.
Saturday, on the same Gallagher-Iba court where Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna, were eulogized last November after their deaths in a plane crash, those left behind had as happy an ending to the season as they could have hoped for after their devastating loss.
It couldn’t have been an easy game for either team to play, so I don’t want James Madison’s effort in the WNIT, and during the season as a whole, get lost in the shuffle. Said coach Kenny Brooks post-game:
I thought it was a hard-fought game. I thought both teams played hard. I thought (OSU) played better than we did for longer stretches, therefore, when you come to a venue like this and a situation a like this, you can’t have lulls. We had some lulls, and I thought that was the big difference, but give them credit. (Toni) Young is probably the best center we’ve played against all year. She was tremendous inside and athletic, and (Tiffany) Bias was probably the best point guard we’ve played against all year. Those two I thought were the biggest factors, and we just couldn’t contain them when we needed to. That group, they’ve done a very special thing for this program at Oklahoma State and we tip our hat to them. We just didn’t have our best game.”