By Eric Shannon
FORT GIBSON – Admittedly Fort Gibson Lady Tigers’ coach Jerry Walker was a bit frustrated at halftime of a 26-22 game in which his team was leading.
Maybe his team was dreaming of Christmas morning but the second half was anything but coal for the Lady Tigers.
Led by Jayme Hill's 15 points and Savannah Gray's double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds), top-ranked Class 4A Fort Gibson ran off from Hilldale 65-40 Friday night at John Harrison Field House.
“We are still a young ball club and we were moving our sets around early on,” said Walker. “They pressed and pressured us very well early on and gave us some problems but we came out and had a good second half and put together a few runs here and there.”
It wasn't all fun and games for the defending Class 4A state champions (5-0) as the much smaller 2-2 Hilldale squad matched Fort Gibson blow for blow, with the advantage to the home team after the first quarter 17-15. Hillary Calvert pumped two 3-pointers in the first 3:02 of the game. Gray countered with a pair of her own and the duel was on.
It was a near defensive stalemate in the second quarter as both teams only connected on three shots from the floor. Fort Gibson center Susie Kilpatrick was the only player to connect twice.
Kilpatrick stepped up again after halftime and poured in four more points. Gray and Allie Glover each popped a 3-pointer to end the third quarter with the Lady Tigers up 42-27.
“We had the size advantage and we weren't rebounding very well,” said Walker. “We talked about that at halftime.”
Calvert opened the fourth quarter with a long range 3-pointer and showed some life for Hilldale to pull within 42-30 but that's when Hill went to work for Fort Gibson. She spurred a 16-3 run that lasted until Kenzie Mize hit a running jumper and a pair of 3-pointers for the Lady Hornets, but at 61-38 the damage was done.
“We made a good first-half push at them but let them get into a roll in that second half,” said Hilldale coach Scott Hensley. “We didn't make very good shot decisions and rushed our offense, then gave them the momentum with the runs.”
Kilpatrick finished with 12 points and four blocked shots along with seven rebounds. while Glover added nine points for the Lady Tigers.
“I was happy with our offensive balance tonight,” said Walker. “When everyone is shooting, it's hard to guard.”
Mize finished with eight for the Lady Hornets, all coming in the fourth quarter.
FGHS 84, Hilldale 34
Christmas came early for Fort Gibson's Jordan London Friday night, collecting a double-double as he led the 4A No. 8 Tigers (5-0) with a game-high 26 points and 17 rebounds en-route to a pouncing of the Hilldale Hornets at Harrison Field House.
London nearly outscored the Hornets by himself and did best the visitors in the third quarter, pouring in 18 to the Hornets eight in the quarter.
“That was probably his best night shooting I have seen,” said Tigers’ coach Gary Hendrix. “We really worked hard tonight and Jordan really stepped up his game.”
Hilldale (1-3) came limping into the rivalry matchup with senior Hunter Howe out with an injured knee but managed to hang with its arch-rival through the first five minutes of the game until Stephen Edwards came to life.
With Fort Gibson up 8-4, Edwards lit a fire under the basket to ignite a 10-2 run with nine of his 13 points in the first quarter and pulling down five rebounds in the time. The run pushed the Tigers lead to 18-6 until the Hornets’ Bill Muse drained a 3-pointer to end the quarter, leaving his team down just 22-12.
“We had a good size advantage on them and Edwards did a good job early establishing our inside game,” said Hendrix. “We took advantage of that early and it opened up our outside game later on.”
After Edwards did his damage on the inside, is was Coleman Crawley pumped in a 3-pointer from the left wing to spur an 11-0 run to open the second stanza and a 33-12 lead with 5:13 left in before halftime. While the Tigers only missed four shots from the field in the second quarter, it was evident that Howe was missed as Hunter Mullens was the only Hilldale player to connect from the floor as Fort Gibson held a 41-19 halftime lead.
“Hunter is probably our best player out there and we sorely missed him tonight,” said Hornets coach Jeremy Rogers. “I don't think he could make up the 50-point difference but he is a good leader and good shooter for us.”
London took the third quarter personally for the Tigers, ripping off 3-of-4 shooting from behind the 3-point line and connecting on eight of 10 from the floor in the quarter for 18 points, not to mention his seven rebounds and two steals in the quarter alone. In comparison, the Hornets shot three of 16 in the quarter for eight points and had six rebounds in the third period.
Crawley and Edwards ended the night both with 13 points for Fort Gibson as Derek Altman led Hilldale with 10.