By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
David Beasley could tell the difference. So could Tramal Ivy.
For Josh Berry, the comparison could only be to pre-season practice.
But there’s a marked difference in a young but growing Roughers outfit which opened the 2012-13 season Tuesday night with a 68-51 win over Sapulpa in what was also the Frontier Conference opener for both teams at Ron Milam Gymnasium.
Beasley had 20 points and seven assists. Ivy had 12 of his 14 points in the second half. Anthony King, the third of the three juniors who started on last season’s 8-15 squad, had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“We’re a team, not individuals,” Ivy said. “We’re starting with some momentum this year. Last year we lost by one (to Broken Arrow in the home opener). This year we win by 20. There is a difference.”
Well, almost 20, but point taken.
“I just wanted them to go out there and fight each and every minute and they did,” said Berry, the first-year coach who returned to the city he grew up in this past summer.
“Tramal got into some foul trouble there and played through it. David trusted in us enough to get the ball into him and Anthony stepped up as well. As long as they understand this is a team game and every night somebody can step up and lead us, we’ll be on the right track.”
Beasley was more than happy to lead.
“Coach has told me to step up and lead and when we’re down and need it, to step up,” he said. “I know this is a team game and this year, we’re a team.”
Beasley had a pair of 3s out of the gate as Muskogee opened up an 11-5 lead. An 8-0 run gave Sapulpa a lead it kept until King’s free throws with 2:34 until halftime made it a 26-24 Rougher lead and started a 10-3 streak to the buzzer.
Beasley hit three straight baskets, including one on transition after Quintahj Cherry came up with a steal and fed him off the break, making it 32-25 with 1:14 until the break, where it stood at 34-27. Beasley had 15 at that point.
Ivy’s basket to start the third and three-point play on a drive put MHS up double digits (39-29) with 6:25 left in the third. Ivy also had a pair of monster dunks, both while guarded by 6-foot-8 junior Drake Harlan, the last coming off a feed from Beasley.
Trelon Ellis,a 6-1 junior, started and finished with eight points, five coming in the third quarter after the lead had grown to double digits. Five-10 freshman Quintahj Cherry also gave some quality minutes off the bench.
Muskogee play Tulsa’s Save Our Youth Leadership Academy at 2:30 Thursday in the United Keetowah Band Tahlequah Tiger Invitational.
A chilly first-quarter offense, foul issues and a lack of overall rebounding led to the Lady Roughers’ downfall in their first game since losing in the Class 6A quarterfinals a year ago.
Oral Roberts-bound Alexus Wilson had a quick basket out of the gate before Muskogee missed on 12 consecutive shots, going scoreless until Kelsey McClure’s jumper with 7:42 until halftime. McClure, the other returning starter from the quarterfinals team, missed all four of her attempts in the first quarter.
Wilson connected on the next possession and MHS was on a 14-4 run, capped by a putback by Lanice Rozell with just under five minutes in the half.
But Muskogee couldn’t keep April Glisson off the line. The senior guard was 10-of-10 there in the quarter and the Lady Chieftains never relinquished the lead, up 30-22. It was also a sign of things to come. She wound up 22-of-24 for the contest and finished with a game-high 22 points.
The Lady Roughers would get it back to within a single possession twice more. McClure’s 3 made it a one-point game (35-34) with 1:05 left in the third, then Mari Jackson misfired with a chance at the lead on the ensuing MHS trip down. On the rebound, Sydney Carter picked up her fourth foul.
Glisson hit a free throw, then trying to tie the game, McClure overshot a teammate on a dish and the ball went out of bounds. It was one of four turnovers over the next three minutes that turned it into a 12-point Sapulpa lead (46-34) early in the fourth.
“We’re going to have to re-evaluate some things and start over on our rotation,” a frustrated MHS coach Doyle Rowland said. “We didn’t play defense. Fouls put us out of our normal rotation and when you don’t rebound and pass the ball like it needs to be passed against a good rotation, you’re going to get beat.”
McClure was Miuskogee’s only girl in double figures with 17. Jackson had eight points and the only factor on the boards for MHS with nine. Wilson finished with seven points.
The Lady Roughers are also in the Tahlequah tournament, playing Oklahoma City Southeast at 7 p.m. Thursday.