By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
It was the kind of game that neither team could relax – until the final buzzer.
Oktaha’s Dustin Leach put up a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining, but he and the Tigers came up short in falling 61-58 to the Spiro Bulldogs in the Small School Boys championship game in the 33rd Bedouin Shrine Classic at the Muskogee Civic Center on Saturday night.
The loss is the first this season in 13 games for the Tigers, ranked No. 2 in the Okrankings.com Class 2A poll.
Leach tried the 3-pointer after the player defending him had slipped.
“The defender was on me. He got caught up and I had an open shot and didn’t knock it down,” he said. “You’re going to miss some shots like that and make shots like that. When you don’t make them, you just try to get them next time.”
Leach, making seven of 11 shots from the field, finished with a team-high 16 points and made the all-tournament team.
Class 3A Spiro (9-5) took the lead 56-55 for good when McKinley Whitefield sank a short jump shot with 1:37 left in the game. He finished with 15 points.
Oktaha coach Jim Glover said that point was crucial to the outcome of the game.
“We needed to get a stop right there and if we did, we were going to spread the floor and make them come get us,” Glover said. “From there, we just couldn’t get back on top.”
The loss also denied Oktaha the chance to repeat as champions in the tournament.
“To get to the finals is a big deal,” Glover said. “I’m proud of my kids. Spiro has a real good ballclub. They came out on top tonight.”
A year ago, Oktaha beat Spiro 64-48 for the title.
Spiro pulled out the win after trailing by as much as five points (50-45) with 5:26 left in the game.
“I give my kids credit for scrambling, scrambling and scrambling,” Spiro coach Dustin Gist said. “It was just enough to beat a really good team.”
But apparently it wasn’t enough to get any players named to the all-tournament team. Gist shook his head and said he had no comment about none of his players being selected.
The Bulldogs, who led 42-41 after the third quarter, also had Knifeis Carter score 15, Jermaine Jimmerson 13 and Tim Perry 11 for the other double-figure scorers.
Oktaha’s Christian McIntosh, who was chosen to the all-tournament team, had 14 along with Blake Pittman. Caleb Shoemake added 10 points for the Tigers.
The rest of the all-tournament team included Haskell’s Michael Love, Porter’s Jacob Richardson and Hulbert’s Craig Potts.
Hulbert 69, Haskell 65 – Mason Fielden poured in a career-high 29 points, while Craig Potts added 18 point and 12 rebounds in the Riders’ victory. Alex Wheeland scored 22 and Wes Davis added 13 for the Haymakers.
Porter 52, Summit Christian 49 – Jacob Richardson poured in a game-high 30 points to pace Porter. Jeremy Polotte led Summit Christian with 23 and Jared Minnix added 11.
Santa Fe South Charter 69, Graham 38 – Jesse Lana scored 17, while Albert Jones and Aulen Henry had 12 each. Bryan Smith scored 18 and Blake Hicks added 12.