Matt Alberty stepped to the free-throw line and put Tahlequah’s near-collapse to rest on Thursday. The senior guard sank one of two free throws to give Tahlequah the lead in what ended up being a 59-57 victory for the Tigers over Enid in the opening round of the 2013 Tahlequah Tiger Invitational at the TMAC.
How Alberty reached the foul line, though, was much more remarkable.
With Enid attempting to hold the ball for 61 seconds to get off the final shot of the game, the Plainsmen’s Marcus Moore was called for carrying the ball with the score tied at 57. Enid coach Ryan Wilkinson disagreed and argued until he was slapped with a technical foul, which sent Alberty to the free-throw line for two shots and possession.
Alberty broke the tie and Alex Paris added another free throw to send Tahlequah into the semifinals tonight at 8:30 against Sand Springs. Enid falls to the consolation bracket where it’ll take on Moore at 2:30.
“I thought we played well, executed well and defended well,” Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. “We had to execute some things down the stretch and I thought we did a good job of doing that.”
Wilkinson declined to speak to the Tahlequah Daily Press following the conclusion of the contest. The Enid coach was asked if he had a second to talk about the game and he said, “no, I don’t have a second.”
Wilkinson’s technical came 47 seconds after Tahlequah’s Dalton Cunningham picked up a technical foul of his own, which allowed Enid to tie the game at 57 on three Braden Rogers free throws.
Then Enid tried to milk the clock before turning the ball over for only the fourth time in the second half.
Alberty led all scorers in the game with 21 points. Sixteen of his game-high total came in the second half, when he went five-of-eight from the field.
“We worked him all summer, and it was just a matter of him getting his mind straight,” Dotson said of Alberty, who finished seven-of-15 from the floor in the game. “He’s a clutch guy.”
Leading the way for Enid (0-3) was Raeshaan Finley, who went seven-of-17 from the field for 15 points. Rogers chipped in with 12 points, and Michael Majors posted all 10 of hits points in the second half.
The Plainsmen finished 21 of 50 from the field in the game. Tahlequah was 22 of 47.
During the early stages of the contest, it appeared that Tahlequah would coast to its first victory of the season. The Tigers led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter and 36-23 at halftime.
“We came out and started like I know we can,” said Dotson, whose team went 14 of 28 from the field in the opening half, thanks to Dalton Cunningham posting 18 of his 20 points in the first 16 minutes of the contest.
Enid followed by storming back in the second half. After Tahlequah claimed its largest lead of the game at 43-25, the Plainsmen went on a 18-4 run to cut the deficit to 47-43 with one quarter to play.
In the fourth quarter, there were six ties and Tahlequah a lead seven different times. Enid never went ahead at any point.
Memorial 53, Tahlequah (girls) 47
Johnny Dyson knew it’d be difficult to completely shut down Memorial’s Faith Ihim. The Tahlequah coach just wanted to try and slow her down.
That notion was tossed out window before Tahlequah and Memorial could even reach the second quarter.
Ihim harassed Tahlequah all game long, posting 24 points and 13 rebounds as Memorial advanced to the 2013 Tahlequah Tiger Invitational semifinals, where it’ll face Coweta tonight at 7.
Now the best Class 5A No. 10 Tahlequah can hope for is some consolation hardware. The Lady Tigers will take on Metro Lakes Conference foe Coweta today at 1 p.m.
“Anytime you lose it’s disappointing,” Dyson said. “But our girls have no reason to hang their heads. We battled and competed, Ihim just got loose there in the first half.”
Tahlequah (1-1) and Memorial traded blows early on before the Lady Chargers turned a 10-7 advantage into a 21-13 edge after Tahlequah guard Marisa Girdner went to the bench with two fouls.
The Lady Tigers would spend the rest of the game trying to cut into Memorial’s lead before the Lady Chargers would hold them off.
“We just couldn’t get on a run to get over that hump,” Dyson said. “Trying to dig ourselves out of the hole, it was a long way to dig.”
Tahlequah went on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter to get within 40-38, but Memorial turned right around and went on a 6-0 run to create more separation.
Whitney Wright led Tahlequah with 16 points. Wright finished five-of-10 from the floor with all of her made field goals being 3-point attempts.
Tahlequah (boys) 59, Enid 57
Enid 11 12 20 14 - 57
Tah 19 17 11 12 - 59
Enid (0-3): Raeshaan Finley 15, Braden Rogers 12, Michael Majors 10, Moore 9, Edwards 6, Porter 3.
Tahlequah (1-1): Matt Alberty 21, Dalton Cunningham 20, Smith 7, Vader 4, Paris 3, Faddis 2, Carlile 2.
Memorial 53, Tahlequah (girls) 47
Tah 10 9 12 16 — 47
Mem 15 10 15 13 — 53
Tahlequah (1-1): Whitney Wright 16, Lindsay Wade 9, George 6, Girdner 5, Chase 3, Glory 2, Clark 2, Cunningham 2, Black 2.
Memorial: Faith Ihim 24, Short 10, Durant 9, Sells 4, Battiest 2, Reed 2.
2013 Tahlequah Tiger Invitational
At the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center
Game 1: Tahlequah 59, Enid 57
Game 2: Sand Springs 70, Moore 64
Game 3: Lawton MacArthur 70, Sapulpa 68
Game 4: Van Buren (Ark.) 60, Coweta 55, OT
Game 5: Coweta vs. Sapulpa, 11:30 a.m.
Game 6: Enid vs. Moore, 2:30 p.m.
Game 7: MacArthur vs. Van Buren, 5:30 p.m.
Game 8: Tahlequah vs. Sand Springs, 8:30 p.m.
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 11:30 a.m. (fifth place)
Game 10: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 2:30 p.m. (seventh place)
Game 11: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 5:30 p.m. (third place)
Game 12: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 8:30 p.m. (championship)
Game 1: Memorial 53, Tahlequah 47
Game 2: Enid 57, Coweta 37
Game 3: Sand Springs 60, Rogers Heritage (Ark.) 37
Game 4: Yukon 49, Van Buren 33
Game 5: Rogers Heritage vs. Van Buren, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Tahlequah vs. Coweta, 1 p.m.
Game 7: Sand Springs vs. Yukon, 4 p.m.
Game 8: Memorial vs. Enid, 7 p.m.
Game 9: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 10 a.m. (seventh place)
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1 p.m. (fifth place)
Game 11: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 4 p.m. (third place)
Game 12: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m. (championship)
Late technical foul on Enid coach lifts Tahlequah to tournament victory
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