Same song, seventh verse.
That’s the way it was for the Muskogee Roughers as they saw their chance to beat No.10 ranked Bixby stolen away, falling to the Spartans 50-48 Tuesday night at Ron Milam Gymnasium.
It dropped the Roughers to 11-10 on the season with seven of the 10 losses by five points or less.
“That’s the way it’s gone most of the season,” said a dejected Roughers’ coach Josh Berry. “I’m glad we’ve been able to play in these close games, but we’ve got to find a way to get back to winning these games like we did early in the year.”
The first three quarters were nip and tuck with eight lead changes and neither team able to grab more than a three-point advantage.
The Roughers’ fortunes rose and fell for the most part on the availability of senior Tramal Ivy, who scored a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but was saddled with foul trouble that kept him on the bench for periods of time. His absence hurt the Roughers cause and led his coach to compare him to another well-known big man.
“He’s always getting treated unfairly. He gets treated kind of like the Shaquille O’Neal of the league and he takes a lot of beatings,” said Berry.
Bixby (14-8) came out strong to start the final period as they stretched their two-point lead to 10 in the first three minutes. But Muskogee battled back with a nine-point run of their own, to pull to within one at 46-45 with 2:26 to play, and then tied it at 48-48 a few seconds later on a 3-pointer by David Beasley.
The Spartans went to their passing game until Mitchell Solomon finally missed a shot in the lane. Ivy rebounded and the Roughers called time with 31 seconds to play.
“We just wanted to make sure we got the last shot and talked about being strong with the basketball,” said Berry. “We had timeouts left if we needed them, but things happen.”
The thing that happened in this case was the ball being stolen by Joey Fiser, who took it the length of the floor for a layup and he was fouled by Lavare Reed. That put the Spartans up 50-48. Fiser missed the free throw and Muskogee rebounded and called timeout with seven seconds left. They got the ball in to Beasley, but he had it stripped away as he tried to turn and go up for a shot.
Besides Ivy, Beasley was the only other Rougher in double figures with 10 points. Solomon was the leading scorer for the Spartans with a game-high 17.
Girls: Muskogee 56, Bixby 39
After a lackluster first half, Muskogee (18-4) turned up the defensive heat, forcing 25 Bixby turnovers in the game, and the much quicker and more athletic Lady Roughers won going away.
Leading just 20-17 at intermission, eighth-ranked Muskogee outscored the Lady Spartans 19-6 in the third quarter to lead after three quarters 39-23. The Lady Roughers stretched the lead to 23 at one point, 50-27 midway through the final quarter, before coach Doyal Rowland turned it over to the bench to finish up.
Despite the slow start, Rowland knows that it’s the second half that really matters.
“We’re learning to not worry about the first half,” said Rowland. ”We want to stay close in the first half and size them up and then that second half we’ve got to go in for the knockout. And that’s what we did.”
Scoring honors were shared by Jada Ford and Aaliyah Wilson with 16 points each and Lanice Rozell added 10. Wilson, who also pulled down eight rebounds, knew that Muskogee would have to turn the heat up in the second half.
“I just knew I had to get more focused and intense in that second half for us to win,” said Wilson.
Muskogee will close out the regular season Friday night at home against Union.
Boys suffer another close call; Girls pull away in opener
Same song, seventh verse.
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