By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
The Tahlequah boys basketball team held off a furious fourth-quarter rally to defeat Pryor 69-62 Tuesday night inside the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activities Center in a Metro Lakes Conference contest.
Tahlequah (2-3, 1-1 Metro Lakes) entered the fourth quarter with a comfortable 45-33 cushion and was able to sustain that same 12-point margin all the way until a Hunter Smith layup with 3:23 left gave the team a 59-47 advantage.
Tahlequah was coasting toward the finish line until Pryor (1-4, 0-1 MLC) used a 13-3 run in a little more than a minute’s time that seemingly came from nowhere to pull within 62-60 with 1:51 remaining. The revved-up Pryor team sputtered late, however, as Tahlequah won what turned into a free-throw battle in the game’s final minutes.
“We played an excellent first half to take a 13-point lead at intermission. We played A-plus basketball in that first half,” Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. “We knew they were going to make a run at us because they are a quality team, but we’re getting better at closing out games and we were able to do that tonight.”
Matt Alberty finished with a game-high 30 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. He was 8-for-14 from the field and 11-for-15 at the free-throw line. Will Carlile added 16 points, and both Jake Vader and Keith Washington pulled down 10 rebounds for the home Tigers.
“Matt is a guy that’s put in a proper summer, and it was great to have him in there at full stride,” Dotson said. “Dalton Cunningham, our lead guy, couldn’t get it going tonight on the offensive side of the ball, but he affected the game with his defense and his leadership.”
Tahlequah was 21-for-65 (32 percent) from the field, 4-for-15 (27 percent) from behind the three-point line and 23-for-37 (62 percent) at the charity stripe. Pryor shot at a 28-percent clip from the field (15-for-53), while going just 2-for-16 (13 percent) from downtown and connecting on 30-of-41 (73 percent) from the free-throw line. Tahlequah outrebounded Pryor 54-44.
Robert Ross led the visiting Tigers with 20 points. He was 5-for-11 from the field and made all nine free-throw attempts. Tyler Bradshaw added 11 points.
The official clock operator nearly cost Tahlequah, as 12 seconds of game action was played with the clock frozen at 55 seconds left in regulation. Neither the referees, coaches nor clock operator corrected the error, so an extra 12 seconds was played in the game. Luckily for the home Tigers, they were able to avoid letting the timing error cost them a victory.
“I don’t have a comment on that,” Dotson said. “It’s early in the season for everybody.”
Tahlequah (girls) 58, Pryor 32
The contest was seemingly over before it started.
The Tahlequah girls raced out to a 15-0 lead in the first five minutes of the contest, and Pryor was never able to recover in a 58-32 rout Tuesday night inside the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activities Center in the Metro Lakes Conference opener.
The run started with a Reagan Clark layup and was followed with jumpers from Whitney Wright and Lindsey Wade. Wright then hit three straight treys to force a timeout by the visiting Lady Tigers.
Pryor (0-5, 0-1) was able to settle down and escape the first quarter down just 16-3. The visitors were also able to squeak out an 11-10 second-quarter advantage to enter halftime down 26-14 and stayed close with a 38-25 deficit after three, but Tahlequah outscored Pryor 20-7 in the fourth quarter and overwhelmed the visitors late in the contest.
Wright finished with a game-high 12 points for Tahlequah. She also added five rebounds, five steals, three assists, and two blocks in 24 minutes. Marisa Girdner added seven points, seven steals, six assists, and three boards.
Tahlequah (3-2, 1-0 MLC) shot 37 percent (19-for-52) from the field, 32 percent (6-for-19) from three-point territory and 64 percent (14-for-22) at the line. Pryor shot 24 percent (11-for-46) from the field, 14 percent (1-for-7) from downtown and 45 percent (9-for-20) at the charity stripe.
Ofy Chavoya led Pryor with 11 points and nine rebounds, but she was just 3-for-10 from the field. Hunter Gilstrap added seven rebounds, six steals and four assists, but she scored just three points after finishing 1-for-10.
Tahlequah led in nearly every category, including points off turnovers (23-7), fast-break points (6-0) and bench points (16-9). Pryor was able to eke out a 42-38 rebounding edge, and the two teams combined for a whopping 50 turnovers (29-Pryor, 21-Tahlequah). Every player that stepped on the floor for at least five minutes committed at least one turnover. Pryor’s Sammy Gordon led the way with nine giveaways.
Both Tahlequah teams will play again Friday night when Stilwell arrives at the TMAC.