FGHS 75, Poteau 35
In recent games, the No. 1 Lady Tigers have struggled in the first half only to clamp down and take the game away in the second half.
Saturday in the Class 4A regional championship game at Harrison Field House, Fort Gibson decided to use its pressure defense to force the issue, racing out to a 17-6 lead after the first quarter and never looking back.
“We came out and executed well,” said Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker. “On defense, we were locked in on the girls we felt were their best players offensively and doing a good job of knowing where they were at.”
The Lady Tigers (26-0) limited the Lady Pirates (14-10) to 25 percent shooting (4 of 25) while forcing 11 turnovers in the first half. They also controlled the boards, outrebounding Poteau 32-24 for the game.
Offensively, Susie Kilpatrick made her presence felt down low with her drop step as she scored a game-high 18 points. She finished the night hitting on seven of eight shots and converted all four of her free-throw attempts and credited being prepared for her success on Saturday.
“We practiced this week,” she said. “We had to come out in the beginning ready to go. We definitely wanted to go out there and be ready.”
Starting the third period with a 30-12 advantage, the Lady Tigers did not let up, outscoring the Lady Pirates 26-10 for a 56-22 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Fort Gibson also had a strong night on the free-throw line, making 15 of 16 attempts with senior Savannah Gray, playing her final game in Fort Gibson, recording the only miss while scoring 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, all from 3-point range.
“We just want to focus on one game at a time,” Gray said. “Defense wins champions and we needed to pick up our defense. Anything we did wrong in this game we have to correct for our next game.”
That next game will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Wilburton versus Ada. Should the Lady Tigers prevail, they would be making their 10th straight trip to the state tournament.