Fort Gibson 72, Hilldale 40
The Tigers applied defensive pressure from the opening tap in dominating the Hornets at Harrison Field House on Friday.
Fort Gibson limited Hilldale to 30.8 percent shooting (4 of 13) in the first quarter, racing out to a 27-9 advantage, improving to 17-3 on the year.
While the Hornets (8-11) were struggling to make shots, No. 6 Fort Gibson made 10 of 17 shots in the quarter. Fort Gibson coach Gary Hendrix said the start was the key to the Tigers’ play.
“We had pretty good balance in scoring,” he said. “We had guys that could hit from the outside and we’ve got guys that can score on the inside and that’s a good combination.”
Four Tigers ended the game in double figures with Dalton Cunningham pouring in a game-high 23 points. He missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Stephen Edwards had 12 points and nine rebounds while Jordan London and Coleman Crawley had 11 points each.
Bill Muse was the only Hornet to end the game in double figures with 13 points.
Edwards said the game he had was exactly what was needed for the Tigers to beat their rival.
“Our biggest thing is picking up rebounds, put them back and finding open teammates,” he said. “Just keeping each other going, you could say.”
Cunningham was aware early on that he was going to be a major factor in the outcome of the game.
“I just played for my teammates to give me good passes,” he said. “I think our loss to Locust Grove on Tuesday prepared us for tonight. This is a big rivalry game and we were ready.”
“Fort Gibson’s pretty good and they’re way bigger than us,” Hilldale coach Jeremy Rogers said. “We’re 7-5 in our last 12 and it’s not like we’re playing bad. They’re just a good team.”