By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
BETHANY – Fort Gibson’s Brooke Palmer has a simple motivation when it comes to rebounding.
“If we don’t do it enough in practice, coach (Jerry Walker) has us running extra,” the 5-foot-10 senior said. “I don’t want to run extra.”
Palmer won’t have to. Her game-high 11 rebounds powered the Lady Tigers to a 59-46 victory against the Weatherford Lady Eagles in the Class 4A state quarterfinals at Southern Nazarene University’s Sawyer Center on Thursday.
That sends the No. 2 Lady Tigers (27-1) to the semifinals against No. 3 Cushing (25-1) at 8 tonight at SNU.
The Lady Tigers grabbed 29 rebounds in the game to Weatherford’s 14.
In the first half, Walker’s squad out-rebounded the Lady Eagles 21-8. He had a “take that” demeanor outside the locker room.
“We’re tired of hearing how physical everybody else is,” he said. “We went after it and were more aggressive. I like the way we rebounded. We were tough.”
Count Weatherford coach Dusty Torrey as being impressed with the Lady Tigers’ work on the boards.
“They murdered us, especially in the first half,” he said. “Their size overpowered us.”
The Lady Tigers took control of the game in the second period, using a 7-0 run to take a 21-16 lead with 5:46 left as sophomore CheyAnne Johnson scored four points and senior Taylor London sank a 3-pointer. Fort Gibson led 27-20 as the teams went to the locker room.
Palmer had seven of her rebounds while Savannah Gray, a 5-9 junior, had five of her seven rebounds before the break.
“We knew they were taller than us, but we wanted to get as many rebounds as we could,” Gray said. “We wanted to make them go over our backs to get rebounds.”
Chandler Roof, Weatherford’s tallest player at 6-foot, was a non-factor. She had only three rebounds as she picked up her second personal foul with 55.06 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Anytime you have a starter get into foul trouble, it takes you out of your rhythm,” Torrey said.
The Lady Tigers had with three players finish in double figures with Palmer scoring a team-high 17. Allie Glover, sinking 3-of-4 3-pointers in the second half, had 14 and Gray added 10.
One of Glover’s 3-pointers came with 3:07 left in the game to give Fort Gibson its biggest lead at 49-35.
With a 51-41 lead, the Lady Tigers, a state finalist last season, sank 10 of 12 free throws in the final 1:31 of the game with Gray making five-of-seven.
Rylie Torrey, the coach’s daughter, and Macy Stark had 10 each for the No. 5 Lady Eagles (25-3).
Weatherford’s strongest challenge to the Lady Tigers came in the third quarter after an 8-3 scoring run cut Fort Gibson’s lead to 33-30 on Stark’s basket with 2:25 left. The Lady Eagles wouldn’t get any closer.
Cushing defeated Harrah 41-36 to advance against the Lady Tigers.
The other 4A semifinal will be at 6:30 p.m. at SNU. The state championship game will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday at State Fair Arena.