By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
FORT GIBSON — Ya’Quoob King couldn’t do enough to offset Fort Gibson’s dazzling offensive show Saturday night.
Not nearly enough.
Wagoner’s 6-foot-5 senior had 28 points and 11 rebounds, but his team lost 96-38 to the Tigers in the Class 4A Area IV district playoff at Harrison Field House.
While King did his thing around the block, the No. 6 Tigers (21-3) came at the Bulldogs (4-19) from every direction and with a balanced mix of shooters.
Coleman Crawley had 23 points to lead the way, Dalton Cunningham had 16 and Jordan London 12. A fourth starter, Chris Simpson, barely missed double figures with eight points. Austin Gassaway had nine off the bench.
“I thought our passing was really, really good — as good as it has been all season,” Tigers coach Gary Hendrix said. “We were very unselfish, trading good shots for better shots.”
The Tigers finished 35-of-61 from the field, 57 percent on the night. They were 9-of-15 from beyond the arc in building a 51-16 lead at the half, Crawley at 4-of-7 leading the way.
King took a while to get started. His putback at the 1:44 mark of the first ended an 0-for-6 start for the Bulldogs, making it 20-6. He had the other four points on free throws.
“They were in there zone like they always are,” King said. “I did what I could.”
He turned it up a notch in the second quarter, going 5-of-6 and through halftime, had all of Wagoner’s points. In fact, the Bulldogs didn’t get anything from another player until Tracy Thompson got a free throw at the three-minute mark of the third.
Thompson finally got a non-King basket early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s hard to contain, a good athlete who can jump well and shoot well,” Hendrix said of King.
But again, not nearly enough.
Kyle Dortch had five fourth-quarter points, including a free throw that maxed the lead at 94-35 with 1:03 to play.
“Coach emphasizes unselfish play and team harmony. We try to execute that every game but I think we really did a good job of that tonight,” Crawley said. “I think that will be the key to our success from here on.”
Fort Gibson will play host to Sallisaw (6-17), a 56-45 winner over Muldrow on Friday, at 8 p.m. Thursday in the regional semifinals. Wagoner gets Muldrow in a 3 p.m. game, also at Fort Gibson.
Fort Gibson 65, Wagoner 25
No. 1 Fort Gibson (24-0) took the first postseason step toward a repeat state title and its third in four years, riding a defense that caused Wagoner to give the ball up 22 times on turnovers.
Thirteen came off steals. Allie Glover had four steals and Savannah Gray three.
The defensive effort overcame a 34 percent shooting effort (18-of-52) that still managed a 46-20 lead through three quarters before the deep part of the FGHS bench blew it open in the fourth.
“I guess we thought we were getting points for shots on goal. We just needed to slow our last step or two. We were way too fast,” said Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker.
“But we did a good job blocking out and a really good job defensively, which was really the big deal for us tonight. We got a lot of loose balls and bounce passes.”
While the shooting wasn’t great, and the tempo was a little out of whack, the Lady Tigers wound up with just six turnovers by comparison.
Glover led Fort Gibson with 13 points. Grace Parker had 12. Kabree Edgmon had eight off the bench.
“We’re not going to hit (shots) every night but everyone sets up and finishes the game in other places,” said Glover.
Wagoner’s Kristen Robbins led her team with seven points, doing all that before fouling out with 4:26 left in the third quarter.
Fort Gibson gets to host Sallisaw, a 65-64 overtime winner against Muldrow, at 6:30 Thursday in a regional semifinal. Muldrow gets Wagoner (7-15) in a 1:30 contest, also at Fort Gibson.