From the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers winning their second Class 4A basketball title in three years to the Warner Lady Eagles capturing the Class 2A cross country championship and in between state golf tiltes for Hilldale and Eufaula and a softball championship at Hilldale, 2013 appeared to be a year when prep girls’ teams grabbed the biggest headlines..
Boys’ teams had their fair share of exciting events during the year. Vian and Wagoner advanced to the semifinals in football, a former Rougher donned an NFL uniform and the Fort Gibson soccer team made the Class 4A semifinals.
Here’s how the sports staff at the Phoenix ranked the top 10 stories in 2013:
1. Lady Tigers capture hoops championship
Ask Lady Tigers coach Jerry Walker what’s the least important score in a basketball game and he’ll quote pro basketball legend Bill Russell.
“He said the least important score is the score at halftime,” Walker said.
He relayed that quote to his Lady Tigers in the locker room at intermission of the Class 4A championship game against Mount St. Mary, which saw FGHS on the short end of 25-19 score.
His team took his word to hear and outscores the Lady Rockets 39-18 in the second half to capture its second title in three years.
The two combined for 17 points and 12 rebounds in that second half. Individually, Palmer had 15 points and six rebounds.
“We weren’t hitting our shots in the first half and we knew had to win the game inside the paint,” said former Lady Tiger Brooke Palmer who finished with a game-high 15 points. “We knew rebounding was key because they liked to crash the boards hard. We had to scrap harder than they did.”
2. Hilldale wins fastpitch title
The Lady Hornets had one goal in mind when they began their season in August – win a state title.
Having fallen to Cache in the 2012 Class 4A quarterfinals, Hilldale was not going to settle for anything less than a gold ball and it showed at the state tournament as Destiny Riddle had no-hitters going into the final inning of both the semifinal against Blanchard and the final versus Bethel to lead the Lady Hornets in accomplishing their goal.
Hilldale coach Darren Riddle, Destiny’s father who coached the Hornets’ baseball team to the Class 4A championship in 2012, said it wasn’t easy to be the coach without being the father.
“I was almost nauseated out there,” he said.