By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
FORT GIBSON – Midway through the third and fourth quarters on Friday night, it looked as though the Wagoner Bulldogs would coast into today’s consolation final of the Old Fort Classic at Harrison Field House.
However, the Hilldale Hornets would tighten things up in both stanzas but could not finish the deal as the Bulldogs beat the Hornets 61-54.
“I thought we played well the entire game, said Wagoner coach Jason Giddens. “We had to get on them for a few mistakes but overall it was a good game for us.”
Wagoner (6-11) trailed 16-14 at the end of the first quarter but outscored Hilldale (5-12) 15-5 in the second to grab a 29-21 lead. The Bulldogs would go up by 11 with 1:45 left in the third only to have the Hornets cut the deficit to 44-41 at the end of the quarter.
“We had a bad second quarter and that kind of doomed us,” said Hilldale coach Jeremy Rogers. “We played well in the second half but missed some free throws late at the end.”
The fourth quarter was almost identical to the third as Wagoner would push the lead to 57-48 with 1:50 remaining then see Hilldale trim its deficit to 57-53 with one minute left, but that would be as close as the Hornets would get.
“We have been working the whole season on our defense,” said Decarius Clark, who led all scorers with 17 points. “Tonight we had balanced scoring and played solid on defense.”
Three other Bulldogs finished in double figures. Kerwin Thomas had 16 points, Jessara Fullbright had 14 points and Jacob King had 11 points and 12 rebounds, both season highs. Four players finished in double figures for Hilldale with Hunter Howe and Bill Muse Jr. tying for team-high honors with 13 points each. Hunter Harrison added 12 points and Jordan Proctor had 10 points.
Wagoner will play Eufaula, a 44-41 winner over Stigler, in the boys consolation final at 2:30 p.m. today. Cody Faries led Eufaula (9-7) with 15 points. Seth Sandlin had a game-high 17 for Stigler (6-8), which ends its run.
For anyone that had not seen the records, they would have thought the Wagoner Lady Bulldogs weren’t the team that had only one win on the season.
That’s because Wagoner held the Stigler Lady Panthers to a 40.6 percent shooting night in winning the second consolation semifinal in the girls’ bracket, 50-37 on Friday.
“This was probably the beat game we played all season,” said Wagoner coach Mike Blair, whose team improved to 2-15 on the season. “Defensively, we really stepped it up. We were able to get the ball and play inside-outside offensively. We also made some 3s early which helped us out.”
The Lady Bulldogs trailed for the majority of the first quarter but grabbed a 9-8 lead and pushed it to 19-13 at halftime. The third quarter proved to be the difference as Wagoner outscored Stigler (6-10) 18-9 for a 37-22 advantage.
Kristen Robbins led Wagoner with a game-high 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 4 of 6 from 3-point range, while Gabby Roberts tossed in 11 points. Brook Hurst was the only Lady Panther to finish in double figures as she had 15 points, all on 3-point shots.
Wagoner advances to the consolation final and will play Stilwell, a 45-41 winner over Inola.