Hugo slowed down McAlester guard Delaney Nix, and McAlester’s offense struggled to score without her.
Hugo limited McAlester to single-digit quarters in the second half, leading to a 54-38 win in a battle between two teams called the Lady Buffaloes.
“It seems like most everybody runs something where they’ll put somebody man-to-man on Delaney, because she’ll come out lighting it up,” McAlester coach April Burns said. “And then all of a sudden they’ll put somebody that’s in a ‘no catch’ situation with her, and then our offense kind of seems to fall off.”
Nix hit two 3-pointers early in the first quarter, the second of which put McAlester up 8-5, but she wouldn’t score again until the third quarter. McAlester hung with Hugo until midway through the second quarter, at which point Hugo scored 7 straight points.
A’breon Jackson’s 3-pointer broke a 17-17 tie, then Alexis Bills picked off a McAlester pass and scored in transition. McAlester missed on its next possession, then Jackson drained a layup for a 24-17 lead.
Jackson scored 10 for Hugo.
“We’ve been working a lot on shooting outside more, getting more confident,” Jackson said.
Bren Cable ended Hugo’s run with a layup off a pass from Katelynn Creekmore — McAlester’s first field goal since Shattee Robinson’s layup late in the first quarter — but Bills answered immediately with a layup. Torri Tarkington then scored off a pass from Rayshee Smith for a 9-point lead, the biggest lead up until that point.
Nix’s steal led to a fastbreak basket from Taylor Compton with 1.7 seconds left in the half to get the deficit back down to 7. Hugo went up 30-21 on Beautiful Brown’s layup two possessions into the third and outscored McAlester in all four quarters.
“She’s always been undersized, but she makes up for it with effort,” Hugo coach Chris Scott said of Brown.
“She goes after every loose ball, every rebound, and we need that.”
McAlester’s handlers never looked comfortable moving the ball against Hugo’s defense, a match-up zone that combined elements of both a man-to-man and 2-3 zone. Baskets came in spurts, but never enough in a row to really challenge Hugo’s lead.
Creekmore buried a shot from just inside the 3-point line with 58 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 39-30. Hugo missed on its next shot, but Smith knocked the ball away on McAlester’s ensuing possession.
Smith sprinted to the sideline, grabbed the steal, raced down the court and laid it in right before the buzzer for a 41-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We started kind of trying to play their style of basketball, trying to run with them,” Burns said. “We couldn’t run with them, and when we finally got them to calm down we were down by 7, then down by 9. We have to learn how to manage our turnovers, and I think we did a good job of that in the first quarter. They pulled out of their press, but we have to make sure we can do that the entire game.”
Brown and Tarkington combined for 5 straight points for a 16-point lead midway through the fourth. Tarkington led the game with 16.
McAlester retook the lead four times in the first and second quarters, going up 3-2 and 8-5 on Nix’s 3-pointers. Robinson’s layup later made it 10-9, then two free throws from Cable put McAlester up 13-12.
Hugo responded with 5 straight, getting two free throws from Abigail Simpson and a 3-pointer from Wilisha McAlester for a 17-13 lead. Cable drew shooting fouls on back-to-back possessions and hit all her free throws to tie the game 17-17, but Jackson’s 3-pointer put Hugo ahead for good.
Nix and Cable, both freshmen, led their team with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Nix hit five 3-pointers, and Cable shot 6-for-6 at the free throw line and was McAlester’s most consistent post player Tuesday.
“She’s coming in and giving us a lot of really good minutes,” Burns said of Cable. “Coming in, working really hard on the offensive and defensive end. She’s really trying to step up her game.”
Hugo, the No. 12 team in Class 3A, finished its regular season 17-5 with the win. McAlester, the No. 20 team in 5A, fell to 7-15 with one game left until Regionals.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.