By Nick Hampton
By Nick Hampton
OKTAHA – Showing the weariness of a weekend of tournament play, the Oktaha Lady Tigers used a strong third quarter to pull away and knock off Savanna 52-31 Monday night at the Oktaha gym.
“We just came out flat, leg-weary, and didn’t play well in the first half,” said Lady Tigers coach Chester Pittman. “In the second half, we turned up the pressure a little and played better and starting getting the ball where it needed to be on offense.”
After jumping out to a 9-2 lead, Oktaha went the last two minutes of the first quarter scoreless while the Lady Bulldogs scored 10 unanswered points to lead 12-9 at the end of one quarter. The Lady Tigers dominated the boards and forced seven Savanna turnovers in the second quarter, allowing Oktaha to get off 10 more shots in the quarter and grab a 22-18 lead at intermission.
Turnovers were a problem for both teams in the third quarter as each team had six miscues. But junior forward Kelsey Cantwell scored 12 of her game-high 21 points in that quarter and the Oktaha defense limited Savanna to just a pair free throws as the Lady Tigers (13-3) opened up a 41-20 advantage after three stanzas. Cantwell showed off her talent from outside with two treys in the quarter run, but credited her teammates with setting her up.
“I work hard on those outside shots as well as being strong down low,” she said “But my teammates got me those shots and I appreciate them being there for me and giving me those passes.”
The Lady Tigers played again without their senior standout Jaylie Roper who is trying to bounce back from a knee injury, and her status remains day-to-day according Pittman. But in her absence, Oktaha got help off the bench as eight Lady Tigers got into the scoring column.
In addition to Cantwell’s 21 points, Shea Lynch was also in double figures for Oktaha with 11 points and Jordan Austin contributed eight.
For the Lady Bulldogs (4-9), their leading scorer was Jordin Wilson with nine points.
Oktaha 58, Savanna 37
For the Tigers (6-9), gunner Dustin Leach canned the first four three-point attempts he put up, helping Oktaha roar out to a 21-10 advantage after the first quarter.
The Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run early in the second quarter to make it a 25-19 contest with 3:25 to play in the half. But that would be as close as Savanna would get as the Tigers ran off 10 unanswered points over the last three minutes to lead at the break 35-19.
It was a 43-30 Oktaha lead after three quarters, but Oktaha outscored the Bulldogs 15-7 over the finals eight minutes to coast to the win. Although the season is at the halfway point, Tigers’ coach Jim Glover says his team is still looking for its identity.
“We’ve got about 10 guys that we play and we’re still trying to figure out who plays best together,” said Glover. “It’s going to be playoffs, I think, before we really know who we are.”
Leach led the way for the Tigers with 14 points while Will Coplan was close behind with 13 and Ethan Taylor added eight.
Chris Perry tallied 14 points for the Bulldogs (4-9) while Ryan Weeks had 11.
The Oktaha teams will play their fifth game in six days tonight as they host Porter for homecoming.