Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

December 21, 2013

Tigers take down Stilwell in overtime

High school sports weekend roundup


Andrew Essary swatted Dalton Cunningham's shot out of bounds and let him hear about it. Then the officials let Essary hear about it.

Instead of Tahlequah taking the ball out of bounds facing a two-point deficit, Essary was slapped with a technical foul for taunting, sending Cunningham to the free-throw line where he made both shots to tie the game up.

It was all Tahlequah from there.

The Tigers scored eight of the final points in overtime to out-last Class 4A No. 12 Stilwell, 56-52, at the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activities Center on Saturday night.

"Excellent win," Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. "...We caught a break on the technical. Just had some good opportunities come our way and we made the most of it."

Cunningham, who finished with a game-high 17 points, followed his game-tying free throws up with a go-ahead jumper seconds later and Tahlequah never looked back.

"We lack our discipline, and that's what we're trying to learn: takes discipline to win," Stilwell coach Ron Dunaway said. "The best teams have it and the best players have it. We can't loose our focus and get caught up in the moment and cost ourselves opportunities."

Stilwell (5-1) scored the first two points of overtime on Matt Lea's putback, but the only other points the Indians would score would be two A.J. Deason free throws with 15 seconds left.

Matt Alberty was four-of-four from the foul line in overtime to salt away the victory for the Tigers (3-3).

Lea led Stilwell with 16 points. However, the 6-foot-8 post player battled foul trouble much of the night and only finished with eight rebounds.

"He's a force in the middle, and without him we become a different team," said Dunaway, who had to pull Lea out of the game with 5:39 left in the first quarter, when Lea picked up his second personal foul. He returned early in the second quarter and didn't pick up his fourth foul until the 1:55 mark of the fourth period.

"We had opportunities," Dunaway said, "just didn't make the plays when we needed to."

Stiwell, who led 26-25 at halftime, went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter to claim a 36-28 lead, but Tahlequah answered back with a 9-2 run.

The Tigers trailed 38-37 at the end of the third period.

Tahlequah trailed during the early portions of the fourth quarter, but the Tigers went in front on a Cunningham made three-pointer followed by a free throw since he was fouled beyond the arc.

Stilwell came right back and took the lead again on a jumper by Lea.

In a mad scramble at the end of regulation, Cunningham was fouled by Chase Littlejohn and went to the free-throw line for two shots. He made one-of-two to knot the game at 48-all with 2.3 seconds remaining.

Then, Littlejohn nearly ended the game in regulation, but his shot from halfcourt as the buzzer sounded rimmed out.

Tahlequah finished the game shooting 17-of-52 from the field. Stilwell was 18-of-45.

The game featured 14 lead changes and nine ties.

Tahlequah's next game will be in the Siloam Springs (Ark.) tournament on Jan. 2. The Tigers will take on Charleston (Ark.) at 11:30 a.m.

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