Phoenix staff report
VINITA – Muskogee girls coach Doyle Rowland preached to his team on Friday that they would have to adjust to the referees, not the other way around.
It took a while for the words to sink in but the Lady Roughers would eventually catch on to down Class 4A No. 2 Vinita 52-50 in the semifinals of the Big Dawg Shootout in Vinita.
“They’re so new at this, so early in the season.” Rowland said. “They didn’t understand how to adjust.”
The Lady Roughers (3-0) had a 10-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter and were able to play good defense and make some critical free throws to pull out the win. Aaliyah Wilson led Muskogee with a game-high 22 points and realized early on that she had to take charge.
“I saw that the calls that the refs were making were making my teammates fall back and they weren’t being as intense,” she said.
Rowland could not offer enough praise for his sophomore guard.
“I have to take my hat off to Aaliyah,” he said. “She stepped up big for us the whole game. The second quarter she really played well.”
Lanice Rozell was the only other Lady Rougher to finish in double figures, totaling 10 points before fouling out. While Rozell and Danazia Brown were the only players to foul out for Muskogee, Rowland said he could have lost a lot more.
“I had about five more with four fouls that could have gone at any minute,” he said. “But we were able to hold together as a team and get it done. They still continue to grow as a team and we finished it, but it was a dogfight at the end.”
The Lady Roughers advanced to the championship game at 7:30 p.m. today against Bentonville, Ark., a 49-47 winner over Miami.