OKTAHA — On paper it looked like it might be a pretty good match up — a pair of 7-3 teams, both with good finishes in post-holiday tournaments last week.
But that’s why, as they say, they don’t play the games on paper.
The Oktaha Tigers roared out of the gate with 14 first-quarter points while limiting Hulbert to just three points and went on to cruise past the Riders 73-32 on Tuesday.
It was a night where the Tigers could do nothing wrong while the Riders could never get their offense in sync, shooting just 21 percent in the first half (4-of-19) and trailing 36-12 at the break.
“We’ve been settling for getting ahead on someone and letting them hang around and we really wanted to go and just stifle somebody,” said Oktaha coach Darian Dickson.
Oktaha (8-3) played an aggressive, physical game forcing Hulbert into giving up the open shot or fouling and the Tigers took advantage of both, going 19-of-24 at the free-throw line while shooting 48 percent from the field. Defensively, they mixed zone and man-to-man and forced the Riders into 22 turnovers in the game.
Dickson was particularly proud of his team’s effort and discipline in the game.
“These guys ran through walls for us tonight,” he said. “To be on the sidelines and have your kids play that hard and well disciplined makes a difference in the score. We prefer playing at the tempo we saw tonight but we’ve matured enough that we can dictate either a full-court or half-court game depending on who the opponent is.”
As a result of that run-and-gun tempo, the Tigers had three players in double figures with Ethan Frazier nabbing game-high honors with 20 points while Dillon Watson had 17 and Preston Holmes added 13. Nolan Davidson was the leading scorer for Hulbert (7-4) with nine points.
Oktaha 69, Hulbert 23
The girls contest was almost a mirror image of the boys’ game as the Lady Tigers (7-4), fresh off their Small School Division championship in the Bedouin Shrine Classic, broke a 2-2 tie and ran off 25 unanswered points to take charge in this one.
As with the boys’ game, the Lady Tigers shot nearly 50 percent (14-of-29) in the first half while limiting the Lady Riders (1-8) to just 4-of-17 and forcing 15 turnovers to lead at intermission 40-11.
“I thought we played hard tonight and we’ve seen our shooting improve over the last three or four games,” said Oktaha coach Kia Holmes. “We got to work on several defenses tonight and we got to see a lot of our reserves in action. Perhaps the only negative on the night was that at times I thought we didn’t take very good shots. I would like to have seen us pass the ball around a little more and get better shots sometimes.”
The Oktaha starters played the first quarter and the start of the third quarter and reserves were on the floor the rest of the night for the Lady Tigers. As a result, no one had spectacular numbers in terms of scoring but 13 different players made a contribution to the Oktaha offensive effort.
In fact, the high-point player and the only one in double figures for the Lady Tigers was Alana Collins who came off the bench to score 12 points
Oktaha will be home again Thursday to entertain Henryetta and then travel to Westville on Friday while Hulbert stays on the road with a Friday engagement at Central Sallisaw.