By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Solid second-half defense from Broken Bow sent the McAlester Lady Buffaloes reeling, but the Lady Savages never managed the knockout blow.
The Lady Buffs recovered, came back and won their Homecoming game.
Baylee Dawkins, McAlester’s 2014 Homecoming Queen, knocked down back-to-back shots late in the game, and the Lady Buffs held on to beat the Lady Savages, 45-43, Friday at Bob Brumley Gymnasium in McAlester.
“The girls, they fought back, they fought back hard,” McAlester coach April Burns said. “They didn’t just quit whenever we got down. Previously, in a lot of the games before, if we get behind, it’s over. It’s like we give up and we quit, but they were fighting hard. We think it was the throwback jerseys (we wore). The throwback jerseys pushed us through.”
A 15-0 Lady Savages run had given Broken Bow a 38-30 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Shattee Robinson knocked down two free throws for McAlester to end the run. The Lady Buffs then forced a backcourt violation on the Lady Savages’ next possession, and on the opposite end Lacey McLain knocked down a free throw to cut the lead to 38-33.
TeAnna Butler answered with a free throw for Broken Bow, but April Calistro then found McLain for a layup and a foul. McLain sank the free throw, completing a night in which she scored 19 and went 7-for-11 at the foul line.
“Since they ran man-to-man (defense), most of the time we set better screens,” McLain said. “Doing that, we can get each other open a lot better instead of just running around not knowing what to do.”
McAlester’s defense held the Lady Savages scoreless on their next three offensive possessions, and on the opposite end Dawkins took a pass from Taylor Compton and drained a corner jump shot with 2:33 left in the game. After another defensive stand, Dawkins took a pass from April Calistro behind the 3-point line in the same corner, then buried the 3-pointer to put McAlester up 41-39.
Dawkins scored 9 for the Lady Buffs.
“We were just trying to get a good shot off,” Dawkins said.
“They were driving in, and when they’re driving in, they’re going to suck the defense in. So popping out, you’re going to be open.”
Broken Bow missed its next two shots — McAlester rebounded extremely well Friday, grabbing 24 defensive boards and allowing very few offensive rebounds — and after each miss April Calistro went 1-for-2 at the line to push the lead to 43-39. Terri Baker pulled the Lady Savages to within 2 on two free throws, but while Kamil Gill came away with a steal on McAlester’s next possession, Jade Mitchell was called for an offensive foul that gave the ball back to the Lady Buffs and sent Mitchell to the bench with five fouls.
Calistro went to the foul line and went 1-for-2. Baker scored again, but Calistro again went 1-for-2 to make it 45-43 with 9 seconds left.
The Lady Savages moved the ball across halfcourt, and Erica Baker got an open look at a 3-point shot.
Her shot spun for a full two seconds around the rim of the basket before eventually falling harmlessly to the side as the clock expired.
“Something we’ve been talking about is putting together four solid quarters,” Burns said. “Not three, not three-and-a-half, but four solid quarters. I think our girls’ defense tonight was incredible. Their team defense was incredible, and their blocking out was the best I’ve ever seen.”
Burns added, “We had four turnovers in the first half, which is the fewest we’ve ever had all season.”
McAlester led by as many as 9 during the first half, but Mitchell’s layup made it 24-21 McAlester one possession into the third quarter. Broken Bow stepped up its full-court pressure in the third, swarming McAlester’s guards and forcing the majority of the Lady Buffs’ turnovers in the game.
Because of their defensive success, the Lady Savages went on far more fastbreaks than the Lady Buffs. Throughout the game, as soon as the Lady Savages got a steal or grabbed a defensive rebound, one of their guards took off towards the basket.
A teammate would then complete a fullcourt pass, leading to several easy transition baskets for Broken Bow.
“It’s not something we just implemented right then,” Broken Bow coach Dottie Slabaugh said of her team’s transition game. “It’s something we’ve been working on, getting somebody up the floor and using our speed a little bit.”
Terri Baker and Michaela Richbourg both scored 13 for Broken Bow. Robinson scored 7 for McAlester, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots.
With the win, McAlester improved to 6-11. Broken Bow, a team that entered Friday’s game ranked 18th in Class 4A, fell to 12-6.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.