MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

March 9, 2014

Joining the FTG guys, Lady Tigers halt Hilldale’s run, head back to state for 10th time

WILBURTON – The Hilldale Lady Hornets came ready to play on Saturday with their first state tournament appearance on the line.

However, so did rival Fort Gibson and it was the defending Class 4A champions that prevailed, downing the Lady Hornets 42-27 in the Area IV consolation championship game.

The Lady Tigers, No. 1 in 4A with a 27-1 record, were relegated to the consolation round with a 33-30 overtime-loss to Ada on Friday while Hilldale (19-8), making its first appearance in the area round, advanced to the consolation championship game with a 57-52 win over Poteau.

“We hit some shots and they didn’t” said Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker. “Our kids have been in this game and it was the first time for Hilldale. But hey, they had a great year and they are going to build on it. Hilldale is going to be a tough team.”

The win put the Lady Tigers into the state tournament for the 10th straight year. It also extended a streak for Fort Gibson of not having lost to its rival since 1997, a fact not lost on Fort Gibson senior Savannah Gray.

“That was in our minds that it was Hilldale,” she said. “We can’t look at them like they’re Hilldale but deep down, we knew it.”

For Hilldale coach Scott Hensley, he knew it was going to take a strong effort in his team’s part to upset the Lady Tigers.

“(Fort Gibson) is a great team,” he said. “Coach Walker is a great coach and they do everything right.”

Fort Gibson won each of the previous two meetings by 25 points. This game started out as if it was going right down to the wire.

Hilldale, as it had done against Victory Christian and Poteau, fell behind by five points early in the first quarter, 7-2, only to throw a quick counterpunch. It trimmed the deficit to one, 7-6, with 2:31 left on a 3 by Hillary Calvert. However, the Lady Tigers stopped the momentum by scoring the final five points of the stanza for a 12-6 advantage.

The Lady Hornets closed the gap to 12-10 with 6:57 remaining on jumpers by Katie Kirkhart and Kenzie Mize. That is when Fort Gibson began to seize control, outscoring Hilldale 12-5 for a 24-15 advantage at intermission.

“We had bigger bodies inside and we harassed them,” said Susie Kilpatrick, who led the Lady Tigers — and tied Hilldale’s Kirkhart for game-high honors — with 12 points. “After last night, we came in (Saturday) morning to get ready and go through our run-through. We do that when we lose.”

The third quarter was all Fort Gibson. When  Mize scored at the 6:02 mark, it would be the last points for the Lady Hornets until Mize sank two free throws at the 5:40 mark of the fourth quarter, but by then the score was 37-19 and reality had set in and tears had started to flow on the Hilldale bench.

“That’s Lady Tiger basketball,” Walker said. “We played pretty good defense last night – 33 is not much. But last night we didn’t hit shots and tonight we did.”

The loss marked the final game for Julie Plunkett in a Hilldale uniform. Plunkett was a freshman the season before Hensley arrived and feels the future is bright for Lady Hornets basketball.

“This team is together more instead of individuals playing,” she said, holding back tears. “With this group, I see a state championship next year.”

The Lady Tigers will find out later today who they meet and where they go in the state quarterfinals which begin on Thursday.

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