By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
FORT GIBSON — Hilldale didn’t make the Old Fort Classic championship game, but the Lady Hornets may have left behind a gift for the team that took their spot.
That six-minute semifinal cold spell that cost them a spot might have emerged as a virus passed on to the Muldrow Lady Bulldogs, whose uncharacteristic 13 percent shooting in the first half dug a 17-point hole in what was a 57-44 Fort Gibson Lady Tigers’ victory and their ninth consecutive Old Fort title Saturday night at Harrison Field House.
Muldrow (13-4) was 2-of-11 in the first quarter and 1-of-13 in the second. Fort Gibson (18-0) was better than that from beyond the arc — going 5-of-9 — and with a 17-11 edge on the boards, rolled to a 27-10 halftime lead. Savannah Gray, named the tournament’s MVP, and Allie Glover both hit a pair of 3s off wide-open kickouts to help stretch the advantage.
And just to show the Lady Tigers were immunized, Glover fired up two more back-to-back early in the second half, then moments later fed Taylor London after controlling a loose-ball scramble. London’s layup was good, giving the No. 2 team in the Okrankings.com Class 4A coaches poll a 35-11 lead early in the third.
The 4A No. 13 Lady Bulldogs made a push in the fourth, mostly from the free-throw line where it was 6-of-8, and by forcing seven Lady Tigers’ turnovers in the second half. But it never really found its field shooting touch, finishing at 22 percent (11-of-50).
Glover, who led her team with 14 points, was 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
“I work hard at it and have been hitting those shots,” Glover said. “But I’m happy for our team. We work hard, we have coaches who prepare us for this and win or lose, we give the glory to God and just do what we’re able to do.”
Walker’s program is now 78-2 over the past three seasons.
“Our intensity was where it needed to be,” FGHS coach Jerry Walker said. “We just got dead-legged and they took advantage of our ball handling mistakes and passing decisions and had a run of some shots in the second half.
“They didn’t shoot well in the first half and we were able to take advantage of that. But at halftime I pulled out the scorebook from last year’s (semifinal) game and showed them how we were up 12 and at the end of the third, we were up 1. They brought the heat on us and some of our young girls haven’t seen much of that. And the only way to get better with it is to face it.”
Joining Gray as all-tournament were teammates Taylor London and Brooke Palmer. Gray had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Palmer 12 points and London 6 points. Muldrow’s Halee Sharp, who led her team with 13 points, and Alex Butcher were also selected by the committee of former coaches.
Hilldale beat Eufaula 51-40 for third place. Katie Kirkhart, also an all-tournament pick, had 18 points to lead the Lady Hornets (12-6). Newakis Banks and Alyssa Banks each had 12 for the Lady Ironheads (11-6).
Fifth place and the consolation crown went to Stilwell, a 37-24 winner over Wagoner. Sara Fountain led Stilwell (9-9) with 15 points. Sharece Robbins led Wagoner (2-16) with seven points.
Jordan London’s offense was obvious, but it was a defensive play that might have turned the tide for the Tigers.
London snatched the ball from Muldrow’s Gherrold Killebrew’s grasp in the backcourt and getting control of the ball underneath the basket with a defender tight on him, chose to flip the ball to teammate Jordan Hill for a layup that tied the game for the 10th time at 58 with a little over a minute to play.
Then it was back to offense as he hit three free throw down the stretch, taking a 63-58 win over the defending champs, ranked just outside the 4A top 10 at 11.
London finished with 22 points.
“Coach always teaches unselfish play and (Hill) was right there,” London said. “They’re a good team but we played pretty good tonight.”
Hill, who joined London on the all-tourney team, had averaged 17 1/2 points in the first two games. But in this one, the layup was just his third field goal of the contest. He finished with nine points, but he got plenty of teammates picking up the slack. Ned Adair had 10 points, including the first six points of the game for the Tigers, all inside the paint. Zack Lindley also was in double figures with 10 points.
The championship is the Tigers’ first in the tourney since 2009, and raised their record to 14-3. The No. 8 team in 4A didn’t make the finals a year ago.
“It was a hard-fought game and we knew it would be back and forth,” said Tigers coach Gary Hendrix. “They hit some big shots, we hit some big shots, they played good defense and we had some good defense. This was a good high school game.”
“It was fun and I’m glad for the kids,” he added. “They play hard. I told them as long as we keep working hard we’re going to get better and hopefully we’ll continue to get better.”
Killebrew had 15 and D’Andre Owens 13 points for the Bulldogs (11-6), ranked 11th in 4A. Owens and Dominic Blue made the all-tourney team.
Stilwell (12-6) took third with a 56-44 win over Inola (11-7), which put Aaron Davis on the all-tourney team. Fifth went to Wagoner, a 71-46 winner over Eufaula. Garrett Jackson led four Bulldogs (7-11) in double figures with 15 points, followed by all-tourney selection Kerwin Thomas with 14 and Byron Adams and Decarius Clark, each with 13. Eufaula (10-7) got 14 points from both Cody Faries and Devin Garfield.