MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

January 8, 2013

33rd Bedouin Shrine Classic Girls Tournament: Team effort paces Lady Roughers

— Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland said the 33rd Bedouin Shrine Classic is all about accountability.

That, indeed, took on a team concept Monday night in a 72-32 win over Checotah at the Muskogee Civic Center, beginning their search for a fourth straight Shrine Large School Girls division championship.

Every member of Rowland’s roster – and for that, matter, Checotah’s – saw action in a game that was well in hand at the half. The coach was seven deep into his bench before going up 30, 44-14, late in the first half, on a 3-pointer by one of those reserves, J’Liyah Tillman.

“We needed, or I needed, a game to get deeper into our bench. We’ve been going seven or eight deep and we’ve got 15 girls who can play,” Rowland said. “We’ve told our girls this tournament is about accountability to each other, accountability for positives and negatives, every single player.”

They quickly took care of business using traps and frontcourt pressure on Checotah’s guards to force eight first-quarter turnovers, 13 before half, 22 in all.

Alexus Wilson led a spread-out MHS offense with 11 first-half points. She finished with 15. Her younger sister, Aaliyah Wilson, had 11 points off the bench. Kelsey McClure finished with 13, seven in the third quarter.

By game’s end, and for most of the fourth quarter, both teams were playing the end of their benches.

Muskogee (6-2) will play tonight’s Hilldale-Webster winner on Friday at Ron Milam Gymansium.

“We needed to get our confidence back up,” said Rowland, whose team was coming off an 83-68 loss to Jenks on Friday. “This wasn’t a 6A team we played but we knew they’d come out and fight.”

Katie Smith’s eight points led Checotah (1-8), which faces the Hilldale-Webster loser on Thursday, also at the MHS gym. Both games will be 7:30 starts.

“I told our girls what they would do,” said first-year Lady Wildcats coach Vaughn Blankenship. “They’re very athletic and fast and we didn’t score we’d have to get back and defend. We didn’t do it. But we’re young.”

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