Phoenix Staff Reports
When Gary Hendrix took the job as the boys basketball coach at Fort Gibson, he wanted to establish a winning tradition for Tigers basketball.
On Friday in the semifinals of the Oologah Tournament, he added a milestone to that tradition as he won his 500th game, 403 for the Tigers, downing host Oologah 74-46 in the semifinals.
“I’ve had great players, a great school to work for, great assistant coaches, great family support and great community support,” Hendrix said. “I just can’t say it any better than I’ve been blessed.”
Hendrix, who coached for five years and earned his first 97 wins at Mounds prior to his arrival in Fort Gibson, had to earn his milestone victory against someone who served as an understudy to him.
“Jim Deaton (Oologah coach) is a very good friend of mine and interned at Fort Gibson for me in 1986,” Hendrix said. “But he was very congratulatory after the game and gave me a big hug.”
Jordan Hill led the way for the Tigers (9-2) with 24 points while Jordan London had 14 points and Zach Lindley had 10 points.
“Coaches are never satisfied and we didn’t shoot free throws that well tonight,” he said. “That’s something we have to work on but the kids played hard. They were happy with the win but they know we have a lot of games left and a lot of games to get better.”
The Tigers face Inola at 7 p.m. tonight in the championship game at the high school gymnasium.
In the girls bracket, the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers, No. 2 in the Okrankings.com Class 4A poll, struggled offensively but still kept their record unblemished at 11-0, defeating Catoosa 52-29 in the one of the girls’ semifinal.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” said Lady Tigers’ girls coach Jerry Walker. “We did play good defense and god production from our bench.”
One of those bench players was Grace Parker who finished with eight points but gave the Lady Tigers just what the coach was looking for.
“Grace was a spark we needed off the bench,” Walker said. “She created good rebounding opportunities and applied good pressure on the ball on defense. Her defense created more opportunities for everyone else.”
Brooke Palmer led Fort Gibson with 13 points while Savannah Gray had nine points. The Lady Tigers meet host Oologah in the finals at 5 p.m. today.
Both of Wagoner’s teams were in action on Friday and both suffered defeats. The boys were tied at 58-58 with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter before falling to Inola 62-61 in one semifinal while the girls lost to Lincoln Christian 46-31 in consolation play.
The Wagoner boys ( 3-9) had four players in double figures with Kerwin Thomas and Byron Adams leading the way with 15 points each while Decarius Clark had 13 points and Lateze Clayton finished with 10 points.
On the girls side, Karrigan Kimball was the only Lady Bulldog (0-12) to crack the double-figure plateau with 12 points, all on 3-point shots.
The boys will play in the third-place game against Oologah at 3 p.m. today at the high school gym while the girls are in the seventh-place game against Dewey at 1 p.m. today in the lower elementary gym.