MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

March 3, 2013

FGHS ladies earn ninth straight state berth; boys come up short

Coach Jerry Walker isn’t picky about how the job was done, just that it was done.

A day later than usual, his Fort Gibson Lady Tigers punched their ninth consecutive state tournament trip with a 41-38 victory against the Muldrow Lady Bulldogs in the consolation final of the Class 4A Area IV tournament Saturday at the Muskogee Civic Center.

Of those nine tickets, this is the first time they’ve been pushed into a Saturday consolation matchup rather than win it in the area title game on Friday.

“A sigh of relief but anytime you go to the state tournament – and I don’t care what night it’s on – it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s exciting as it can be.”

Savannah Gray sank two free throws in the final 40.2 seconds to clinch the win.

“You just have to play every play your hardest, try your best and not give up,”  Gray, who finished with five points, said. “This feels great. It doesn’t feel like we lost (by going the consolation route).”

The Lady Tigers fell 57-46 to Byng on Friday, but they had to shake their first loss of the season off.

On Saturday, Muldrow made it just as tough for Fort Gibson.

No more than two points separated the two for the last nine minutes of the game. The game was tied twice and the Lady Bulldogs held a 32-31 lead on Cassidy Hughes’ 3-pointer with 4:33 left in the contest. Hughes finished with a team-high 10 points, while Halee Sharp and Alex Butcher had eight each.

Brooke Palmer was the ultimate difference as the Lady Tigers senior sank all six of her free-throw attempts in the fourth period and 10-of-10 on the night to finish with a game-high 16 points.

Allie Glover sank two 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 10 points.

The Lady Tigers, ranked No. 2 in the final Okrankings.com poll, head to Oklahoma City with a 26-1 record. The state pairings will be announced Sunday.

“This is a big team win,” Fort Gibson assistant coach Chuck London said. “When you lose on Friday and come back on Saturday and win, I told them it takes two things. It takes character and toughness.

“And those two things defined our team all year long.”

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