MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 8, 2014

Tigers wallop No. 1 VC, return to state for first time since 2010

By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer

— WILBURTON – The Fort Gibson Tigers knew they were in for a tough battle in facing top-ranked Victory Christian Conquerors.

By the time the dust had settled, it was Fort Gibson looking like the No. 1 team in Class 4A after beating Victory Christian 59-41 in the Class 4A Area IV boys area championship game on Friday.

The No. 6 Tigers (24-3) trailed VC by one at the end of the first half but dominated the second half in sending Fort Gibson to the state tournament for the first time since 2010.

“We wanted to stay in the game in the first half,” said Fort Gibson coach Gary Hendrix. “I felt like our guys played really well in the second half. Our defense really bothered them and we were able to get some good shots. I’m just proud of our guys, they played great.”

Fort Gibson opened the third quarter with a triangle-and-2 defense that frustrated the Conquerors, leading to a 9-0 run and giving them a 36-28 advantage. By the time the quarter was over, Fort Gibson held a 44-35 lead.

“When we switched to that, it stopped their two best players,” said Coleman Crawley who finished the game with nine points. “And what we’ve done all year – unselfish team work – so many passes leading to easy layups.”

Jordan London led the Tigers with 17 points while Dalton Cunningham had 14 points. London now gets to feel what it’s like to play in the state tournament, having watched his older sister Taylor play in two state tournaments for the Lady Tigers.

“This feels awesome,” London said. “Now I know how she felt.”

Another key for the Tigers’ win was the rebounding. The Tigers outrebounded the Conquerors 17-9 with Stephen Edwards leading the way with 9 of the 17.

“At first I thought they would have trouble with us inside,” Edwards said. “I had my doubts about it but I also knew if we worked hard, we could get rebounds.”

For Crawley, the feeling was more that he could express.

“I can’t describe it,” he said. “We were so excited to play them.”