By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Lady Cougars 41, Warriorettes 30:
When neither basketball team has experience, sometimes height makes all the difference.
The Canadian Lady Cougars had the much taller forwards, and those forwards helped them come back in the second half against the Indianola Warriorettes and stay alive in the Pitt 8 Tournament.
Canadian forwards Tiersten Fairchilds and Krysta Ketchum each scored 13 points, helping Canadian beat Indianola 41-30 in Wednesday’s consolation semifinal of the tournament at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester.
“I basically said if we weren’t going to hustle and work any harder than we did the first half, then we would make up for that in practice,” Canadian coach Daniel Lokey said. “Instead of doing anything else, we would just run in practice. That seemed to make a difference, because they started hustling, started working harder.”
Indianola led Canadian 19-13 at halftime and looked poised to finally end the Warriorettes’ season-long losing streak. But after Indianola missed on its first possession of the second half, Fairchilds set up in the low post, then passed it to Michelle Greco for a layup.
Following turnovers on back-to-back Indianola possessions, Ketchum found Fairchilds for a layup in the paint, then Elisabeth Willis cut Indianola’s lead to 19-18 with a free throw. Hailey Folsom’s jump shot gave Indianola 2 points, then Brooke Smith’s steal led to a fastbreak layup by Indianola guard Lena Painter that made it 23-19 Warriorettes.
Canadian scored on its next two possessions to tie the game, however, as Fairchilds scored a layup and Ketchum then put back an offensive rebound. Ashley Clark’s jump shot gave Indianola the lead, but Ketchum drained a jumper of her own to tie the game 25-25.
Canadian took the lead for good when Ketchum put back another offensive rebound to put the Lady Cougars up 27-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We had to see where they were at on the court, and if they were overplaying, you back-door them,” Ketchum said.
“We were being patient with the ball, playing as a team and working together.”
Greco’s steal turned into a layup by Fairchilds to make it 29-25, but Katelyn Oxford knocked one down for Indianola soon after. Canadian later extended its lead to 34-27 when, following an Indianola turnover, Ketchum ran a give-and-go with Fairchilds that Ketchum finished with a layup.
“In the first half, she wasn’t even looking to score,” Lokey said of Fairchilds.
“She stepped up and had a much better second half.”
As Canadian mounted its comeback and eventually took the lead, everything that’s led to Indianola’s winless season began to creep into the game. The Warriorettes couldn’t handle the ball, threw away passes into the open court instead of finding open teammates, took rushed and off-balanced shots and committed too many fouls.
Clark led the Warriorettes with 13 points, but Indianola scored just 11 points in the second half to Canadian’s 28.
“Once we find teams we can compete with, we play fairly hard for two quarters, two and a half quarters,” Indianola coach Jim Mize said. “We just don’t know how to finish the job.”
With the win, Canadian advanced to Saturday’s consolation semifinal at 2 p.m. Indianola exited the Pitt 8 after an 0-2 performance.
Bulldogs 61, Warriors 39:
With Savanna center Tanner Brown owning the paint, the Bulldogs’ defense forced Indianola to rely on its outside shooting.
The Warriors couldn’t knock down nearly enough 3-pointers to hang with Brown and Savanna guard Kris Perry.
Perry and Brown combined for 41 points, leading Savanna to a 61-39 win against Indianola in the Pitt 8 consolation semifinals.
“That’s probably the best he’s played in there,” Savanna coach Brian Brown said of Tanner. “We’ve been working pretty hard in there, getting the ball in and finishing. He’s had trouble finishing, and he finished tonight a whole lot better.”
Tanner Brown scored 21 for Savanna.
The Bulldogs played far more physically than Indianola on Wednesday, fighting for offensive rebounds and winning one-on-one matchups in the paint. Tanner Brown scored from the post on Savanna’s first possession, drew a foul and went to the free-throw line.
Tanner Brown missed, but Perry grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to quickly put Savanna up 4-0. Tanner scored off an offensive rebound of his own to put Savanna up 8-3 later in the first quarter, then pushed the lead to 7 with two free throws after grabbing another offensive board.
Indianola missed its next possession, then Perry drained a jump shot to give his team a 13-4 lead after the first quarter.
“Whenever they got in the zone ... get it inside,” said Perry, who finished the game with 20 points. “If they were in the middle and they’d close in, kick it out and try to get a shot for one of my teammates.”
Savanna’s tough man-to-man defense forced a steal on Indianola’s first possession of the second quarter, and on the opposite end Perry got it to Ryan Weeks for a jump shot. After another Indianola miss, Tanner Brown scored again off an offensive rebound to make it 17-4 Bulldogs.
Tanner Cargill’s 3-pointer for Indianola cut the lead to 10, but Savanna responded with 6 points in a row. Perry floated one in, Tanner Brown scored off an offensive rebound that also led to a free throw, then Alex Owens scored a free throw to push the lead to 23-7.
Trey Carter scored off a fastbreak for Indianola, but Owens’ layup gave Savanna a 25-9 lead at halftime. Owens scored 9 points in the third, helping Savanna go into the fourth quarter up 43-22.
“We had a lot less turnovers tonight than what we did (Monday), unforced turnovers, so that was a plus,” Coach Brown said. He added, “Kris had another good night. He’s had about three good ones in a row.”
The Warriors outscored the Bulldogs’ all-reserves team by 1 in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors did get 3-pointers from four different players during the game. But for every one basket Indianola would score, Savanna would respond with two or three in a row, making it impossible for Indianola to ever really challenge the lead.
Clifford Conallis led Indianola with 16 points.
“Rebounding really hurt us, letting them have a second, third chance on the inside,” Indianola coach A.J. Mason said.
“They (Savanna) were definitely the aggressor. We kind of laid back, and we’ve been that way all year.”
With the win, Savanna advanced to Saturday’s consolation final at 3:30 p.m. Indianola exited the tournament after an 0-2 performance.
Cowgirls 52, Lady Hornets 43:
Forced to sit on the bench with two fouls through much of the first quarter, Kiowa guard Addy Clift watched her team fall behind by 14.
Back in the game in the second quarter, Clift took the Cowgirls to Pitt 8 Tournament championship.
Clift scored 32 points, leading the Cowgirls past the Stuart Lady Hornets in a thrilling Pitt 8 semifinal, 52-43.
“I could only get past their second wave when I got really good screen sets,” Clift said.
“It was a game well-fought, and we won, so that’s the main thing. We all worked together really well.”
Kiowa chopped 6 points off its deficit in the second quarter, then continued its comeback in the third. Rylee Smith found Tori Gillispie in the post for a layup, then after a Stuart miss, Madi Slawson knocked down her only basket of the game — a 3-pointer that cut Stuart’s lead to 31-28.
Stuart missed again, but Slawson found Smith in the paint for a layup. Forward Kayla Smith sank two free throws to make it 33-30 Stuart, but Tara Mabray connected with Clift on a deep pass late in the third to make it a 33-32 game heading into the final quarter.
Another layup by Kayla Smith pushed the lead back to 3 in the fourth, but Stuart couldn’t convert a steal on Kiowa’s next possession, and the ball went over to Kiowa.
Clift took the inbounds pass, broke a double team, brought the ball across the halfcourt line, then hit a pull-up 3-pointer to tie the game 35-35.
The Lady Hornets lost their next possession to a traveling violation, and on the opposite end Rylee Smith laid one in for a 37-35 lead. Stuart’s Megan Jernigen eventually tied the game 39-39 with a coast-to-coast layup, but overall Stuart struggled with Kiowa’s second-half defense, which switched from a fullcourt press used unsuccessfully in the first half to a halfcourt trap.
“Third quarter, we went dry, did not hit (shots),” Stuart coach Melinda Dobson said. “We only hit four free throws and one 2-point shot.”
Dobson added, “I was proud of them. They haven’t stepped up and played like that in a long time. The Stuart girls, they’re making an impression on people.”
Following Jernigen’s layup, Stuart lost its next possession on a five-second violation, then Clift rolled off a screen and knocked down a jump shot. Rylee Smith blocked Stuart’s next shot, then Clift buried a deep 3-pointer for a 44-39 lead.
Kayla Smith turned the ball over, then Clift slashed through the lane, collapsing Stuart’s defense before finding Gillispie for a layup and a 46-39 lead. Kylie Jernigen’s layup pulled the Lady Hornets within 5, but Clift and Stiles shot 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the final two minutes of the game to secure the win.
“We calmed down,” Kiowa coach Wade Daniel said of his team’s second half. “When Addy (Clift) picked up her second foul, they kind of panicked a little bit.”
McKay Barton led the Lady Hornets with 18 points, but 16 came in the first half. Kiowa went with a four-guard set throughout the game, allowing the Cowgirls to hang with Stuart’s speedy guards but forcing Rylee Smith or Gillispie to handle rebounding duties solo.
“That’s good for us,” Daniel said. “We need a little adversity. We need to play through a little conflict. They recovered, so I was proud of them for that.”
Daniel added, “It’s always fun to be in the finals of the conference tournament.”
Winning easily the most exciting girls’ game so far in the Pitt 8 Tournament, the Cowgirls advanced to Saturday’s championship at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Hornets will play in Friday’s third-place game at 7:10 p.m.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.