MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

January 11, 2014

Oktaha falls; Sequoyah, Spiro in finals

Oktaha coach Chester Pittman calls it one of the youngest teams he’s ever had. Couple that with the loss of your only senior for the better part of a quarter, and it adds up to a losing combination.

And so it was for the Lady Tigers as the more aggressive and athletic Spiro Lady Bulldogs handed Oktaha its first loss the season 52-41 in the semifinal round of the 34th Bedouin Shrine Classic basketball tournament at the Muskogee Civic Center Friday night.

“Spiro is a really good team, very athletic, but it really boiled down to a couple of things for us,” said Pittman. “They killed us on the offensive boards and when we lost Jaylie (Roper) for a while in the third quarter the game got away from us.”

The Lady Tigers (7-1) stayed close throughout the first half, thanks in part to poor shooting by the Lady Bulldogs. Although Spiro pulled down a dozen offensive rebounds in the half, it repeatedly missed putback opportunities, shooting just 32 percent for the half (8-of-32). Oktaha turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and shot only 24 percent including 0-for-7 in the second quarter, but still trailed by just six at half time 21-15.

Spiro (7-2) stretched the lead to eight points early in the third quarter when Roper, sporting a knee brace, had it come apart and she had to leave the game for about four minutes of the quarter. The senior-heavy Lady Bulldogs took advantage of the much younger Lady Tigers (a pair of juniors and three sophomores) and stretched the lead to 37-25 after three quarters. A 7-3 run by Spiro to start the final quarter proved too much for Oktaha to overcome.

“We’re real young and I was proud of the way we played,” said Pittman. “We looked a little lost out there when Jaylie was out of the game, but I think this was a good game for us to experience having to play catch up.”

The Lady Bulldogs were led by power forward Carleigha Thompson who had a game-high 18 points on the night and drew a lot of praise from head coach Kayla Carrington.

“We have three senior guards who all played well, but Carleigha is just a sophomore who handles the ball well and also gives us some size and aggressiveness inside,” said Carrington.

Oktaha, ranked eighth in Class 2A, was paced by Kelsey Cantwell with 16 points and Haley Baldridge who had 11.

Spiro plays Sequoyah for the championship at 4:30 p.m. at Muskogee Civic Center. Oktaha plays Haskell for third place at 9 a.m., also at the Civic Center.

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