By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
JENKS – The curse of Frank Herald Gymnasium played its way into second-ranked Muskogee’s fourth-quarter performance against No. 9 Jenks here in Frontier Conference action Friday night.
Leading 52-44 and 5:26 from its 13th consecutive win, the Lady Roughers stumbled down the stretch and fell 59-56 to the only team they haven’t beaten in 20 contests this season.
Muskogee (17-3, 8-3) broke out of a timeout at the 6:28 mark up 45-44 and immediately got a 3-pointer by Kelsey McClure, who then converted a three-point play off a steal and another free throw off her own steal to put the Lady Roughers up 52-44.
At that point, it looked like she and her team would not only shake the misery of this gym, where McClure and the rest of the seniors have never won including a first-round regional upset against Claremore two seasons ago, but also atone for the 83-68 loss at home Jan. 4 where Jessica Washington blistered them for 51 points.
Washington, a University of North Carolina-bound senior, had 29 here Friday, including a layup that put her team up 55-54 and a pair of free throws to make it a 57-56 game with :24.4 left. Moments later, McClure, on a drive to the basket after a timeout caught her right foot on a dribble, the ball rolling out of bounds. Taylor Sears’ basket at the other end left Muskogee only with a desperation 3 from near midcourt by Aaliyah Wilson, which was off.
“We didn’t take care of business down the stretch,” Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland said. “We made some dumb fouls, fouls we didn’t need to make, and we didn’t take very good care of the ball.”
Muskogee was 3-of-12 from the field in the fourth.
“Even after we took that time out (and went up eight), you can’t count Jenks out. I don’t think the best team won, but the best team didn’t step up and take care of business,” he added.
Muskogee played much of the second half minus two starters. Sydni Carter picked up two quick fouls in the first 23 seconds of the third quarter to foul out at that point. Aaliyah Wilson, who sat most of the third quarter and part of the fourth with three fouls, left the Lady Roughers without her defensive play and her reach on the floor. Still, her team took a 45-40 lead to the fourth quarter.
Early on, she had half of Muskogee’s points, a blocked shot and a pair of rebounds until Washington connected for Jenks’ first points at the 3:11 mark of the opening quarter. Washington finished the quarter on a tear, hitting three 3-pointers, the first becoming a four-point play off a foul by J’liyah Tillman. That tied the game at 10. Washington would hit two more, giving her 12 points in the quarter and her team a 16-12 edge.
Washington opened the second quarter with her fourth 3, then Muskogee ran off 10 unanswered again off a mix of baskets from McClure, Mari Jackson and Alexus Wilson. Washington didn’t score again, missing her final three shots, and Muskogee would outscore the Lady Trojans 17-5 after Washington’s last basket.
McClure, who did not score in the first quarter, had 25 points. Alexus Wilson had 12.
Jenks goes to 12-9 and 7-5.
Jenks 79, Muskogee 61
Playing their second consecutive game without point guard David Beasley, out indefinitely with a head injury, the Roughers (8-12, 4-7) had to rely even more on the inside game of Tramal Ivy and the outside shooting of Anthony King – which wasn’t nearly enough.
Ivy had 10 points at the half – but 6-foot-3 senior Jacob Siedel had 11 and the Trojans (15-6, 8-4) tossed up five 3-pointers, two by John Jones, one of two players with eight points at the break. The Trojans were up 19-9 after one quarter and 46-21 at the half.
But Beasley’s double-digit average wasn’t the problem, MHS coach Josh Berry said, pointing instead to some major defensive lapses.
“We gave up too many open shots and we turned the ball over too much,” Berry said. “Our defense hurt us the first half.”
The Roughers’ best quarter was the third as they got within 14 twice, outscoring the Trojans 23-14. Ivy finished with 23 points to lead all scorers. King, at forward, had 19 points but 15 in the second half.
Muskogee got a little more offensive production from the guards as Cantrell Ashley had six third-quarter points and finished with eight. Ashley and freshman Quintahj Cherry shared point duties, but Ashley played most of the third quarter there. Cherry did not score.
Steven Parker had 17 points to lead Jenks, which has beaten the Roughers three times this season, once in the Bedouin Shrine Classic title game. Siedel had just one field goal in the second half and finished with 16 points. Jones also had just one field goal and finished with 15.
Both MHS teams are at Broken Arrow on Monday.