By Patrick Kays
OKTAHA — Twenty-five turnovers from Tulsa NOAH and an 18-1 Oktaha run to start the game was by far enough to keep the Lady Tigers undefeated and to take a 51-26 victory at Oktaha High School on Thursday night.
The Lady Tigers (5-0) held the Lady Jags to only one point 7 minutes into the first period, as NOAH gave the ball away 9 times in the quarter.
And the Tigers capitalized.
“Our defense really helped us in the first period, we attacked well. It got us some good looks and we hit our shots,” said Oktaha girls coach Chester Pittman. “Our defense really keyed the win today. We put a lot of pressure on them and those turnovers we got, I mean, that’s a lot.”
Oktaha’s defense played a huge part in the win as it held the Jaguars to single digits in every period.
The Lady Tigers’ lone senior, Jaylie Roper, had 11 points during their 18-1 drive. Roper did not miss a shot from the field until late third period. She finished the night with 19 points.
“We did really well putting pressure on them. We were coming away with the ball and we got some good layups,” said Roper. “We really spread them out and opened up lanes. It made it much easier for us to drive in and hit shots.”
Kelsey Cantwell, one of only two juniors on the squad, had five points in the opening run. She finished the day with nine points and forced five turnovers.
Shea Lynch finished with 10 points and also forced five of the turnovers.
The fourth period was the only bad part of the Lady Tigers game as they shot 3-of-14, edging the Jaguars 6-5 in the period. Oktaha was 21-of-56 in the contest. NOAH was 10-of-37.
“We are young after Roper. You could see how young we were when things didn’t go their way,” said Pittman. “We were taking some bad shots at times, making some bad decisions. Hopefully as the season goes on we will get better at keeping composed.”
Brionne Jones led NOAH in scoring with nine points.
Tulsa NOAH 73, Oktaha 31
Oktaha coach Jim Glover called it a mismatch for his boys and from the looks of the scoreboard, he was right.
“They play a 5A, 6A schedule, and they have a bunch of good guys on their team. We were just outmanned, that’s all I can say,” said Glover, whose team is now 1-4. “I told my guys to not even look at the scoreboard. Just try and accomplish little things and improve from this as we go on.”
NOAH (7-5) had a 51-16 advantage at the half due to the performance of LaRon Stokes who had 16 in the first half. James Bickers, who scored four consecutive baskets for the Jaguars in their 16-4 run in the first, finished with 14.
Stokes finished with 20 points, making him the game’s top scorer. NOAH’s post players came up big for the Jaguars as 6-foot-8 Filip Swanson and the 6-5 Stokes, combined for eight blocked shots.
The Tigers tried getting a run going late in the third and early fourth quarter with a couple of takeaways but had four consecutive failed attempts to score, which were capitalized on by the Jaguars as they recovered from the missed opportunities.
Dustin Leach, Oktaha’s only returning starter, had 13 points. Leach scored nine of the Tigers 16 first-half points.
“(Dustin) has had to really take on the leadership. We have had a tough month. We haven’t had much success. Gotta get better,” claimed Glover. “That is what we have been about this month, is just getting better.”