By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah had to watch Muskogee celebrate a Tahlequah tournament title in 2012. A year later, it was a far cry from that for the Lady Tigers.
After controlling much of the first quarter, Tahlequah came unhinged in the following three periods and suffered a 54-37 setback against Rogers Heritage (Ark.) in the fifth-place game of the 2013 Tahlequah Tiger Invitational.
"It one of those where you kind of question some things," Tahlequah coach Johnny Dyson said following the game Saturday afternoon. "Do we go back to the drawing board? It's one one of those where we need to reevaluate some things."
It was a contest where Tahlequah made only 28.6 percent (12 of 42) of its field-goal attempts. And life wasn't much better at the free-throw line, where the Lady Tigers made 12 of 20 (60 percent) of the shots they put up.
Couple all of that with 18 turnovers and getting out-rebounded 33-21 and Tahlequah is far from its state-tournament form last season.
Tahlequah (2-2) appeared as though it wouldn't have any trouble with Rogers Heritage early on, going on a 6-0 run to take a 5-4 lead and turn it into an 11-4 advantage.
But after that is when things changed dramatically for the Lady Tigers.
Rogers Heritage, which trailed 11-7 at the end of the first period, went on a 10-0 run to close the second quarter to gain a 21-17 halftime edge. Then, in the third quarter, Rogers Heritage continued to pile on, going on an 8-2 run to increase to a double-digit edge at 29-19.
"We just, mentally, let the game get away from us," Dyson said of his team's play in the second and third quarters. "We had the looks that we wanted but we couldn't convert there for a while."
Rogers Heritage used a balanced scoring effort to escape the Sooner State with fifth place. Emilie Jobst buried four 3-pointers and added two free throws for a game-high 14-point effort. Gina Britton and Raquel Moore chipped in with 10 points each for the War Eagles (2-4), who shot 18 of 37 (48.6 percent) from the floor.
Tahlequah's chances of mounting a comeback took a hit late in the third quarter when Whitney Wright was slapped with a technical foul. The senior forward was called for a foul and Sara Giesen in transition, and following the play Wright was saddled with a technical foul, which fouled her out of the contest.
"The way (the official) explained it to me was there was some contact that didn't need to happen," Dyson said. "And I guess it was initiated by (Wright), I guess. ...That was just one of a couple of questionable calls."
Tahlequah finished the contest with only one player scoring in double figures. Marisa Girdner logged 11 points despite going three-of-11 from the floor and four-of-nine form the free-throw line.
"We talked before the season about how there would be some bumps in the road and this is definitely one of them," Dyson said. "It's only a bump and we'll get over it."
Tahlequah will return to Metro Lakes Conference action on Tuesday at home against Pryor.
Rogers Heritage (Ark.) 54, Tahlequah 37
Hert 7 14 20 13 - 54
Tah 11 6 9 11 - 37
Heritage (2-4): Emilie Jobst 14, Gina Britton 10, Raquel Moore 10, Giesen 8, Ricker 6, Cummings 4, Scudder 2.
Tahlequah (2-2): Marisa Girdner 11, Glory 7, Wright 6, George 5, Black 4, Cunningham 2, Wade 2.