By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland called it “a 22-pound hole” in the lineup.
It was sufficiently filled Thursday night in his team’s first-round Class 6A East Regional at Ron Milam Gymnasium, a 53-29 win over Moore. But it might seem like a 2,200-pound elephant from this point on.
Kelsey McClure and her team-leading 22-point scoring average was sitting in street clothes on the bench, nursing a strained hip flexor. McClure said before the game she initially hurt it in the Bixby game last Tuesday, Rowland said it was reaggravated against Union last Friday. The senior guard played all of both games with it, but was seen with a slight limp at times on Thursday.
The Lady Roughers moved to 19-5 and will face Broken Arrow, a 46-36 winner over Sapulpa, here in a 1:30 p.m. regional final on Saturday. Before the game, McClure said she “felt better” and would be ready for that game. But, if McClure is unable to go, much of that load will fall on the guard who ran things in her place Thursday night.
Alexus Wilson had 10 points but also six assists, 12 rebounds and six blocks which were by far a season high and uncanny for a 5-foot-8 senior guard.
“Last time we played them (a 71-38 win on Jan. 24 at Moore in tournament play), they never pump-faked on any of their shots. The shots were so slow, so I just timed it every time,” she said. “Little sis came after me and tried to do the same thing one time.”
Aaliyah Wilson did it once — a block in the third quarter. The freshman guard finished with eight points on the night. Senior forward Mari Jackson led the Lady Roughers with 11 points, including a three-point play with 6:34 to play that gave her team a 49-20 advantage, their biggest of the game.
Aerious King, and Jada Ford provided some punch off the bench. King, a 5-10 junior post, had seven points as did Ford, a 5-8 freshman.
But the senior Wilson did the orchestrating.
“She was a facilitator tonight and she had to be,” Rowland said. “She stepped up to the challenge and early today I could see her sister was game-ready too.”
“I was pleased with most of them. We got a lot of girls playoff experience late but overall we did what we needed to do to fill the gap.”
That gap may glare on Saturday. Broken Arrow ran its up-tempo game to an overtime win at BA a week ago Monday to gain a split of the regular season series.
“Looking back, had I had it to do over I wouldn’t have played her at Union, but she’s in rehab every day and it will be hard to keep her off the court,” Rowland said. “She’s a gamer. Matter of fact, it will almost be impossible to keep her out, I guarantee you.”
The game was all but in hand at the half. Muskogee had forced 11 turnovers and the Lady Lions (3-19) were 2-of-13 from the field. Caitlin Hall had seven points as no Moore player was in double figures.
The senior Wilson is ready for whatever happens in two days.
“If Kelsey’s back it’s a plus, if not it means extra work for all of us and we need to go play defense which is something we didn’t do well last time we played them,” she said.