COLLINSVILLE — When the McAlester Lady Buffaloes changed up their defense, it killed Bishop Kelley’s inside game.
When the Comets changed their defense, it freed up McAlester’s forwards.
Forwards Lacey McLain and Shattee Robinson both scored 12 points, leading the Lady Buffs past the 13th-ranked Comets, 46-39, in Thursday’s regional semifinals at Collinsville High School.
The win guaranteed McAlester a trip to the area tournament next weekend. McAlester faced Collinsville in the regional championship Saturday at Collinsville. For Saturday’s results, see McAlesterNews.com.
The Lady Buffs trailed 25-22 to start the second half, leading to the switch to a 2-3 zone defense. The strategy worked immediately, as Taylor Compton stole away the Comets’ first possession of the third quarter, scored a fastbreak layup and made it a 1-point game.
“When we were in our man (defense) in the first half, they were just killing us by driving and getting us in foul trouble,” Lady Buffs coach April Burns said. “So we had to really go into a zone and just try to pack it in the middle and try to take care of that high post area.”
The Comets missed on their next possession, then April Calistro put McAlester up 27-25 with a 3-pointer. Two free throws from Madeline McKenzie and a third from Kenra Poarch again put the Comets back up, but Robinson later grabbed an offensive rebound, drew a foul and sank both free throws for a 29-28 lead.
Robinson grabbed another offensive board on McAlester’s last possession of the third, again drawing a foul and sinking one free throw for a 30-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Robinson finished with four rebounds and four steals to go along with her 12 points.
“Some of those snatches she had on the ball were incredible,” Burns said of Robinson. “It looked like she had sticky on the tips of her fingers, pulling that ball in. ... She was on most every loose ball, so I was really proud of her.”