By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
WILBURTON – All of the Oktaha Lady Tigers talked about was bouncing back.
As they walked out of the locker room after the Class 2A Area IV final at Wilburton High School’s gym on Friday night, it’s what they had to pin their hopes to after a 47-44 overtime loss to the Colbert Lady Leopards, with today’s consolation final against Preston as their rebound opportunity to make the state tournament next week.
The Lady Tigers (26-2) and Preston (20-10) clash at 6:30 p.m. in Wilburton.
“We’ll be back,” Lanessa Grayson said.
Grayson and Jaylie Roper scored 13 points each as the Lady Tigers, ranked No. 8 in the final Okrankings.com coaches poll, dropped to 26-2 and had their 14-game winning streak snapped. Oktaha had not lost since the Shrine Tournament finals to Spiro on Jan. 12.
The difference in this game was at the free-throw line in overtime. While Oktaha made all four of its attempts, No. 7 Colbert (25-4) went 9-of-11 from the line in the extra period. Katherine Hair made six of seven.
“They killed us at the line,” Grayson said.
“We just have to regroup and try again (today),” said Pittman.
Hair finished with 10 points, while Bailee Weger and Darian Bradford led the Lady Leopards with 12 points each. Colbert extended its winning streak to 15 games.
Oktaha had a chance to keep it from overtime.
With the ball and 5.2 seconds left in regulation at its end of the court. Roper took the pass and looked to pass the ball to Haley Baldridge, but Roper bobbled the ball and time ran out, forcing the overtime and the game tied at 36-36.
“I thought Haley would be open for the 3,” Roper said. “We didn’t have enough time.”
The Lady Tigers hope there is still time to earn the state tourney berth.
“We’ve got to keep our heads up,” Roper said.
Oktaha led 23-18 at halftime after Roper sank a 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the second quarter and Gamble sank a layup with 1:13 remaining.
Colbert dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Tigers 16-5 to hold a 34-28 advantage going into the final period. Weger sank a pair of 3-pointers in the period.
The Lady Tigers tied the game at 36-36 on Roper’s basket with 32.3 seconds left in regulation.
Haworth 49, Oktaha 41
If a player is remembered for his last game, then Oktaha’s Blake Pittman would like to forget the 2A, Area IV consolation semifinal against the Haworth Lions.
Pittman didn’t score as the Tigers, ranked No. 6 in the final Okrankings.com poll, ended their season at 23-6.
“He didn’t take that many shots (nine, to be exact) and they did a good job keying on him,” Oktaha coach Jim Glover said. “We played them in the playoffs last year and they knew what he was going to do. He distributed the ball well, but his shots just didn’t fall.”
The senior was in tears as he walked into the arms of his father Chester Pittman when he came out of the locker room with a towel over his head.
“I couldn’t get into a rhythm,” he said later while waiting for the girls game to start. “I didn’t care if I scored or not. It’s not about me. I was just thinking about winning at all costs. I’ll always remember this game, but I’ll also remember all of the good times I had with these guys.”
Dustin Leach and Christian McIntosh led Oktaha with 12 points each. McIntosh had a game-high nine rebounds.
Burchtal Griffin, Jr., led the Lions with 17 points while making nine of 10 free throws in the second half. Oscar Rivera added 14.
Oktaha was within one, 41-40, with 1:16 left in the game. The Lions got free throws from Hayden Grimes and Rivera in the last 46.1 seconds to take the victory.
The Tigers led 20-18 at halftime as Leach’s basket with 54.3 seconds left was the difference.