MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 8, 2014

Muskogee moves on

Four-time champs make short work of Tulsa Hale

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— It was a 1 vs. 8 matchup in every way Tuesday in the Large School Girls bracket of the Bedouin Shrine Classic  at the Muskogee Civic Center.

And 1 didn’t give any indication it’s ready to relinquish that number.

If Tulsa Hale didn’t overwhelm itself with poor ball handling, Muskogee did the rest.  Fueled by 10 first-quarter turnovers, the top-seeded Lady Roughers led 21-0 after a quarter and thrashed the Lady Rangers 68-13.

Jeanette Kwekw’s jumper off the right wing finally put some points on the board for Hale with just over a minute expired in the second quarter, but it didn’t matter much. Ten more turnovers in the quarter helped dig a 42-5 halftime deficit that while the turnovers slowed in the second half, still got progressively worse.

It’s the fourth game this season that Hale has fallen short of the 20-point mark. The Lady Rangers, 0-6, have lost by an average margin of 31 points.

“Whatever you want to call it,” said guard Aaliyah Wilson, who led Muskogee with 16 points. “Still this showed us a few things we need to work on and practice makes perfect.”

Jada Ford had 10, Trena Mims and Lanice Rozell 8 and Aerious King 6 among the other Lady Rougher starters. Leigh Westbrook and Tanesha Ryan each had a pair of baskets off the bench which saw scoring from seven players.

So it’s off and running in search of a fifth consecutive Shrine title, something Wilson is very much aware of in terms of importance.

“We’re starting a new generation here with none of us having played together,” said Wilson, the only returning player with starting experience as part of the current string. “So we’re coming to get another four with this generation, you know, to start something new and show everyone what we’ve got.”

Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland took it for what it was.

“We haven’t played since before Christmas and we were anxious, and the girls didn’t care who it was out there. And it’s hard to take your foot off the gas when you just want to play,” he said. “We’ve got some defensive issues we need to solve, our offense needs to run smoother than it did and we need to recognize defenses and scorers on the floor.

“It’s tough to get a good look (in this situation) but we have to focus on doing the things we’re taught, I don’t care who it is on the floor. But our bunch is still growing and I’m sure there’s going to be some tougher games down the road.”

Up next is Hilldale (4-2) on Friday at whose first-round matchup was a practice session in the literal sense after they drew a forfeit from Coweta, which was restricted from taking part after school was canceled due Monday’s weather. Hilldale and Muskogee met in last year’s semifinals with the Lady Roughers winning 61-41.

“They didn’t play Monday but they got a game in last week on Friday so they won’t have any rust,” Rowland said.