By BEN JOHNSON
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.
Tahlequah (boys) 56, Stilwell 52
Stil 8 18 12 10 4 - 52
Tah 14 11 12 11 8 - 56
Stilwell (5-1): Matt Lea 16, Chase Littlejohn 10, A.J. Deason 9, Brennan Davis 7, Crittenden 4, Essary 2, Hamlin 2, Collins 2.
Tahlequah (3-3): Dalton Cunningham 17, Matt Alberty 10, Hunter Smith 7, Jake Vader 6, Stone Faddis 4, Keith Washington 3, Alex Paris 3, David Dick 2.
Stilwell (girls) 62, Tahlequah 47
Sarah Paden scored 14 points as Stilwell breezed past Tahlequah in the intercounty matchup. Sara Fountain added 13 points, and Darnell Vann chipped in with 12 as Stilwell was never challenged after the first quarter.
The Lady Indians (4-2) 21-10 at the end of the first period and never looked back.
Lindsay Wade led Tahlequah with 14 points. Marisa Girdner posted 11 points for the Lady Tigers, who fell to 3-3.
Keys girls upend Catoosa
PARK HILL — Ali Nolan was fouled 75 feet from the basket, and she followed by making two free throws to send Keys to a 52-50 victory over Catoosa on Friday night.
Nolan's free throws with nine seconds left were followed by Keys stealing Catoosa's inbounds pass to secure the victory.
Nolan ended up with seven points for Keys, who was led by Sydni Rainbolt with 23 points.
Keys (3-2) was able to take control early with a 15-4 first quarter. Catoosa clawed back but went back home 2-4 record.
The Keys boys game against Catoosa was called off because of dangerous travel conditions on the way back to Catoosa.
Hulbert's games at Vian postponed
Hulbert's basketball games were postponed due to treacherous road conditions due to freezing precipitation falling on Friday night.
Hulbert drove to Vian but called off the games upon arrival.
No makeup was available at the time of cancellation.
Tahlequah goes 3-0 at Bristow tournament
BRISTOW — The Tahlequah wrestling team went 3-0 on the first day of the Bristow dual tournament on Friday. The Tigers beat Mannford (60-21), Sulphur (75-6) and Bristow (66-9).
Tahlequah was slated to begin second-day action against Woodward on Saturday, but the tournament was called off due to a power outage at the tournament.
The Tigers' next dual will be Jan. 7 at home against district foe, Bishop Kelley.
Cougars finish 3rd at Poteau tournament
POTEAU — The Keys wrestling team finished in third place at the Border Brawl Invitational in Poteau this weekend. The Cougars posted 118 points and were best by only Arkansas' Greenwood High School (186 points) and Poteau (157).
At 145 points, Keys' John Haeberle picked up an individual title. He knocked off Poteau's Dakota Hornbuckle with a 5-1 decision victory.
Keys' Seth Fritts also won an individual crown at 160 pounds. Fritts was also named the Oklahoma Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Keys' next action will be Jan. 7 at Sequoyah against District 3A-7 opponents, Inola and Sperry.