By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
TULSA – In Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland’s estimation, it was like 13th-ranked Union was in his team’s locker room in pregame.
The result was a 60-48 win Tuesday at the palace known as the UMAC for the suddenly struggling Lady Roughers, who at 12-3 and No. 6 in the Class 6A rankings have dropped two of their last four.
Again, his assessment.
“The three strategies I had for us, they used. We stunk it up,” he said. “Rebounding, intensity, execution – they did all three and we didn’t do any of them much at all.”
In spurts, they did. As a team, and at the right times, not as much.
And again, in similar fashion to the area finals last March where the Lady Redskins stole a state berth from Muskogee, zone schemes on both ends of the floor seemed to take their toll, along with some sharpened Union defense in the second half.
Yet this mix of sophomores and freshmen – Muskogee’s only senior starter, Aerious King, did not play – wasn’t responsible for last year’s outcome.
“Our youth probably showed up tonight. The atmosphere and the hoopla up here might have had a part,” Rowland said. “Aerious was out with flu and I’m not sure we didn’t have some others under the weather but it’s still about basketball.”
Omaryana Lee drew the start for King. She had a free throw to her credit. The usual suspects didn’t do enough.
“We competed but we didn’t play to win,” Rowland said. There’s an intensity difference there.”
It was evident early on as Union (10-5) ran off to an 18-6 lead, thanks in a large part to six Muskogee turnovers in the opening quarter. The Lady Roughers cut it to 20-18 on a basket by Jada Ford, but Union guard Destiny Climpson answered on the ensuing possession and Muskogee wouldn’t get closer than four. That happened to be the halftime difference when Aaliyah Wilson, who had 13 first-half points, hit a layup and then her steal and subsequent feed to Ford made it a 27-23 game with 33.6 left in the half.
Back came Union and some tight, heads-up defense by freshman Parker Goins on Wilson helped hold her scoreless on eight shots until she connected on her only field goal of the second half with 41 seconds to play. Goins wasn’t much on offense with just seven points but had 11 rebounds. Muskogee went seven possessions without scoring after Ford had missed a pair of free throws that would have tied the game with 4:30 to play at 31 all. Ford had 22 points, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Wilson, who blocked three shots in the first half, finished with 19 points. Lanice Rozell had a team-high 16 rebounds to go with eight points.
Three Redskins hit double figures scoring-wise, all seniors: Forward Esther Udoumoh had 15 points with guard Destiny Climpson with 13 and another forward, Olivia Pendley, with 11.
Friday’s game at home against Sapulpa is Breast Cancer Awareness Night with tipoff at 6 p.m.
“Sapulpa’s beat Union twice,” Rowland noted. “We need to regroup before we put ourselves in a tough position for seeding.”
Union 69, Muskogee 52
Senior guard Shawn Olden lit the Roughers up for 33 points and the No. 2 Redskins (14-1) made for a frustrating night for the No. 13 Roughers (9-5), who finished the contest with three starters on the bench, two for most of the fourth quarter.
Lavare Reed fouled out with under a minute to go in the third and Tramal Ivy was ejected on a double technical with 7:41 to go in the game. Later in the fourth, David Beasley was charged with a technical after being fouled on a 3-point shot. Beasley had an altercation with Abel Rodriguez, who happened to be the guy who got Ivy tossed on what was some carryover from earlier contact on a throw-in, sank two of the three shots and finished with a team-high 23 points.
It was not nearly enough, thanks in a large part to the 6-foot-4 Olden, who was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and had three straight in the fourth quarter as the lead topped 20 points.
“They played a great game, a good team and he’s a good player,” said Muskogee coach Josh Berry. “We’ve got to move on, go back and get ready for Friday.”
And forget the frustration.
“We can’t get caught up in that and play our own game,” Berry said. “Again they just played a tremendous game. Give them credit for that.
The third starter to find a seat, Anthony King twisted his left ankle coming down after taking a shot with 4:35 to go and did not return.
“He tweaked it but he’s a lot tougher than he was last year. He’ll be ready to play Friday,” Berry said.
King had 15 points. Ivy was held to a rare single-digit night with eight points.
Olden might have topped 40 had he not encountered some early seat time with foul trouble. He along with three other Redskins finished with four fouls. Two others, forwards Rodriguez and Jeff Mead, each finished with 11.
Union jumped out to a 14-5 lead, saw it reduced to 14-11 on a pair of King free throws, then ran off seven unanswered points to go up 21-11 with 4:30 until halftime. The Roughers would get no closer.
Cantrell Ashley connected on a jumper and Beasley’s free throws got Muskogee within six at 23-17, but Rodriguez hit a 3 with 1:06 to play and 42’s free throws with 36.3 left made it 28-17. King would nail a 3 with 3 seconds to play for a 28-20 halftime hole.