By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Defense continues to be a work in progress for the Muskogee Lady Roughers and they showed it off against the Hilldale Lady Hornets in a 61-45 in the Large School Girls semifinal in the 33rd Bedouin Shrine Classic at Muskogee’s Ron Milam Gym on Friday night.
“Our defense was better,” Muskogee coach Doyle Rowland said after his team, ranked No. 8 in the Okrankings.com Class 6A poll, won their seventh game in nine outings, but has uncharacteristically given up 169 in splitting a pair of early-season games in 6A competition.
“We may start out in a man-to-man defense, but we switch to different ones to get the most out of all of our players,” Rowland added. “But our rotation on defense has got to improve. We need to have a good defense against the 6A teams we’ll be playing against this season.”
Hilldale coach Scott Hensley watched his struggle to score against the athletic Lady Roughers.
“They play a very physical defense,” he said. “We couldn’t get around them. We’re a better team playing for them. That was a good team.”
Hillary Calvert agreed.
“They are solid,” she said. “We played as hard as we could against them.”
The win puts the Lady Roughers in position to win their fourth straight tournament championship. Rowland’s squad meets 6A No. 9 Enid at 7:30 tonight at Muskogee Civic Center.
“Winning for a fourth time would be special if we can pull it off,” he said.
Kelsey McClure was special for the Lady Roughers with her game-high 22 points, 12 of that in the third quarter. She sank 7 of 13 shots from the field including a pair of 3-pointers.
Alexus Wilson added 14 for MHS, which led 41-24 at halftime.
Calvert topped the Lady Hornets with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field.
Hilldale faces McAlester at noon today at the Civic Center for third place.
ENID 49, MCALESTER 28 – Enid led from wire to wire as they easily knocked off McAlester in the Large School semifinal at the Civic Center.
The Lady Pacers will face Muskogee for the girls title at 7:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.
– Nick Hampton
SPIRO 50, SEQUOYAH 44 – The Lady Indians (6-4) saw their 30-18 halftime lead disappear under Spiro’s 12-0 scoring run in falling 50-44 at Muskogee High School’s Ron Milam Gymnasium.
“They were stronger than us. It’s that simple,” Sequoyah coach Don Cox said. “We just didn’t finish. We did that against Cascia Hall and that came back on us, just like tonight.”
The Lady Indians, who play in the third place game at 9 a.m. today at the Muskogee Civic Center, also had their trouble containing Philicea Mack. She scored a game-high 21 points for the Lady Bulldogs (8-6) in getting 12 of that in the second half.
“We couldn’t stop her,” Courtney Jones said. “She was tough inside.”
Kanisha Hutchinson added 10 points for Spiro. Loren Young was the only player to score in double figures for Sequoyah with 10 points. Jones had nine.
The Lady Indians built the 30-18 halftime lead after a pair of 8-3 scoring runs in the second period. Audrey Ballou scored five points, while Jones and Young had four each in the half.
Spiro faces Oktaha at 4:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center for the championship.
– Kenton Brooks
OKTAHA 43, HULBERT 37 – The Lady Riders of Hulbert put a scare into undefeated Oktaha but the Lady Tigers (13-0) prevailed in their semifinal game.
After leading by 13 going into the fourth quarter, Oktaha saw Hulbert whittle that down to a four-point spread, 41-37, with 45 seconds to play. After Jaylie Roper made an alert defensive play with 13 seconds left, Hulbert committed a foul and Kelsey Cantwell hit a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Roper had 10 points for Oktaha while Cantwell, Makayla Baldridge and Lanessa Grayson had eight points each. Tiffany Thompson was the leading scorer for Hulbert (9-3) with 14 points.
The Lady Tigers, ranked No 4 in the state in Class 2A, will defend their Small School title against Spiro at 4:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.
– Nick Hampton