Down 29-12 at the half, Muskogee’s season seemed clearly on the brink.
They fought back from there and for the first time since the last state tournament team of 2016, the Lady Roughers will move into the Class 6A East Area tournament next week after knocking off Putnam West 52-49 Thursday in the Edmond Memorial Regional, hosted by Edmond North.
First, the Lady Roughers (7-10) will get a shot at their first regional championship since that same year at 1 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 Edmond North (19-2), a winner over Enid in the late game.
It all came down to a shift in aggressive play.
“They were pressing us, we were timid and just letting them come and trap us instead of pushing it up the court,” said Jada Hytche. “We talked at halftime, got ourselves together and talked about driving it in more. We attacked the rim and looked for open shots — especially Denym Sanders.”
Ah yes, Sanders.
She ripped the nets for four 3s in the third and another in the fourth. She finished with 17 points after being shut out in the first half and was the major spark in cutting the lead in half, to trail 39-30 going to the fourth.
Hytche had 12. She had almost all of the offense in the first half with nine points. Tea Myers had 10, all coming in the second half and all but two in the fourth.
“We did play more aggressive in the second half, but I’d call it a case of jitters,” said Muskogee coach Jeremy Ford of the first-half showing.
Ford, in his second season at the helm, is a bridge from that last escape out of the first round. His sister, Jada Ford, was a part of the three state tourney trips from 2014-16.
Fort Gibson 70, Seminole 47
Making a rare regional trip west, this one to Seminole, the 4A No. 5 Lady Tigers took care of business early in this Class 4A Area III regional, going up 42-22 at the half.
Jordan Gann had 11 points off the bench at the break, and Jenna Whiteley had 10. Whiteley finished as the overall leader with 18, Gann next with 15, Kynzi London with 12 and Gracy Shieldnight with 10.
Our kids played hard, sometimes we were a little what discombobulated at times, but we were able to create a lot of scoring opportunities with our defense,” said Tigers coach Chuck London.
“They had some height (Kayley Cobler, 6-foot-1) inside and she had several blocked shots, but we didn’t back down from her.”
Fort Gibson will face Bridge Creek at 6 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Hall. The entire area path for the Lady Tigers is west.
Tuttle 64, Hilldale 26
No. 3 Tuttle (20-2) led 34-16 at the half, outscored the Lady Hornets 13-3 in the third, and went on to send Hilldale (13-8) into the Class 4A consolation bracket in this Area IV regional, played Thursday at Tuttle.
Skye Been had 7 points, tops for Hilldale, and Navaeh Johnson and Madi Folsom had 6.
“They are a very good basketball team and they played well,” Hilldale coach Clif Warford said. “We are going to look to regroup and go get a win tomorrow.”
Hilldale plays at Ada at 6 p.m.