By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
COWETA – Fort Gibson’s boys may not have won this game, but it sure put a scare into state-ranked Coweta at Coweta’s gym on Saturday night.
The Tigers rallied from a 30-17 halftime deficit, forced the game into overtime, but came up short in losing 57-55.
Jordan London tried to bring the Tigers back with his second-half scoring. He scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime. Fort Gibson outscored Coweta 33-20 in the second half.
“We knew we had to come out and fight,” he said. “Coach (Gary Hendrix) got us ready. It was a tough game. I just wish we could’ve won.”
Instead, the Tigers slip to 2-1, while Coweta, No. 7 in the Okrankings.com Class 5A poll, won its second straight to start this season.
Fort Gibson fought back and took its first lead at 45-44 on London’s layup with 3:52 left in regulation. He later tried a 3-pointer from beyond mid-court as time ran out, but the ball bounced high off the glass and Coweta squeaked out the victory.
Before that, Fort Gibson took its last lead at 55-54 on London’s 3-pointer with 1:01 left in the overtime.
“Our second-half effort was unbelievable. I’m really proud of our kids,” Hendrix said. “I think we got a little more relaxed on the offensive end and we figured how they were playing us. We found some spots to take advantage of their defense. On our defensive end, we stared out man-to-man and switched to a zone and that bothered them a little bit.”
Zach Lindley added 11 points for Fort Gibson and Jordan Hill chipped in nine.
Coweta coach Scott Norris sighed in relief as his team walked off the court with the victory.
“Fort Gibson understands how to win,” he said. “Coach Hendrix does a great job with his kids and that’s why we love playing them. We were playing not to lose in that second half. At the end and in overtime, we played to win.”
Zach Norris led Coweta with 17 points, while Caleb Norris had 16 and Austin Swboni added 10.
Swboni’s free throw with 3.4 seconds left in the game was the difference.
Fort Gibson boys and girls will play in the Inola Tournament, which starts Monday. The Tigers play Pryor at 8:30 p.m., while the Lady Tigers meet the Siloam Springs, Ark., junior varsity at 7 p.m.
Fort Gibson 60, Coweta 17
Anticipation and suffocation could be two words that describe the Lady Tigers’ defense – at least in this game.
“We’re different on defense than what we were last year,” said Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker. “Last year we were more a full-court defense, but we’re more of a half-court this year. We’re longer and taller and can cover up some passing lanes.”
Brooke Palmer had five steals, while Savannah Gray and Allie Glover had three each for the team ranked No. 2 in the Class 4A poll. Fort Gibson also pressured Coweta (0-2) into 25 turnovers, 18 of them in the first half to win their third straight to start the season.
Fort Gibson’s defense also held Coweta to just two points in the third period and that was a basket by Montana Hummingbird with 39.7 seconds left. Walker’s squad led 41-13 at that point.
Offensively, Fort Gibson has outscored its opposition so far this season 168-66 and has averaged beating their opposition by 34 points.
Glover, making 5-of-8 shots from 3-point range, led Fort Gibson with 16 points. Jayme Hill had 15 and Palmer had 10. Savannah Gray had a game-high six rebounds.
Kaycee Kelly and Lydia Black led Coweta with four points each.