Fort Gibson 62, Keys 51
A young Lady Cougars squad battled its way back into the game late in the first half, got a short-lived advantage in the third, but went stone cold in the fourth quarter, allowing 4A No. 2 Fort Gibson (14-0) to escape an upset bid Friday.
“We’re still on a learning curve. Our girls wanted it bad but there’s a fine line between wanting it so bad and doing what you’re supposed to do and they tried to do what we asked,” Keys coach Mickey Duncan said. “To play the way we played through three quarters and we were right there, I would have been kind of shocked because we did not play well early.”
The Lady Tigers led 14-4 and again by 10 at 26-16 on free throws by Savannah Gray midway through the second quarter, but Keys (9-7) pushed back, closing with seven unanswered points to draw within three at the half despite 17 first-half turnovers.
Courtney Willis’ basket with 5:18 to go in the third gave Keys a 34-33 lead. Sydni Rainbolt had eight points in the third and 14 after the half to finish with 18, but sat a spell after getting her fourth foul. It was her basket with 2:38 to play that ended an 0-for-8 fourth quarter and an 8-0 FGHS run.
Brooke Palmer, who had a season-high 23 points in the win over Hilldale on Thursday, had eight fourth-quarter points and 19 of her 22 points after the half. She sat much of the first half after picking up two early fouls, leaving FGHS without a post presence. Six-footer CheyAnne Johnson missed her second game on crutches after a foot injury in Tuesday’s win against Wagoner and 6-2 Susie Kilpatrick was home sick.
“I came back out focused,” Palmer said. “We know what happens when we get two fouls that quick.”
FGHS coach Jerry Walker knows too.
“When we got her back, you saw the difference,” he said. “And I thought Savannah was a beast on the boards when we needed it and when the ball was in her hands, she cut them to pieces with the ball in her hands getting it to Brooke.”
FGHS plays in the Old Fort Classic next week, the girls against Wagoner at 7:20 on Monday and the boys against Stigler on Tuesday. Keys turns around with 4 and 5:30 contests today at Sequoyah.