By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah had no answer for Bishop Kelley's Leah Colon and Jenny Berry when the two clubs met in early January.
On Friday night at the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center, the script was flipped.
Whitney Wright scored 18 points and led Tahlequah's dominating effort in a 55-32 rout of Class 5A No. 11 Bishop Kelley in Metro Lakes Conference play.
"I feel like we're heading in the right direction at the right time of year," Tahlequah coach Johnny Dyson said. "We're doing some things right and some girls are stepping up and roles are being figured out. We've got some girls playing really well right now."
None more so than Wright and Kacady Glory.
Wright went six-of-13 from the field, including four 3-pointers to lead the way for Tahlequah (7-11, 5-3). Glory lit Bishop Kelley (6-11, 3-3) up by scoring 11 of her 15 points in the first half.
With Marisa Girdner battling foul trouble with three fouls before halftime and four fouls early in the third quarter, Wright and Glory took the reigns picked up the slack.
"That's the kind of things that we're able to do right now," said Dyson, whose club has now won three straight games. "One man goes down — or whatever it may be — and we've got others stepping up and filling those roles and filling those gaps."
Girdner still managed to finish with eight points, which was still higher than any scoring totals posted by Bishop Kelley players. Madeline McKenzie had a team-high six points for the Lady Comets.
But, as was the case all night, Bishop Kelley failed to execute on the offensive end. The Lady Comets finished 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) from the field to go along with 20 turnovers.
Tahlequah dropped in 17 of its 40 field-goal attempts and managed to only turn the ball over eight times.
Taking over early, the Lady Tigers went 10-of-23 from the field in the first half and led 29-14 at halftime. Tahlequah went from down 4-3 to up 11-3 at the end of the first quarter. Bishop Kelley pulled to within 14-8 in the second quarter, but the Lady Tigers closed the first half on a 15-6 run.
Then, to put the game away, Tahlequah outscored Bishop Kelley 11-3 in the third quarter, breaking the Lady Comets' spirits for good.
"We talked about that at halftime. Coming out in the third quarter, we had a little bit of a lead on them at halftime, and we wanted to make sure not to give them any hope," Dyson said. "We wanted to make sure that we jumped out on them in the first few minutes (of the third quarter), and we wanted to see some shoulders drop and some heads looking down."
Boys: Bishop Kelley 53, Tahlequah 44
In 2013, Bishop Kelley had to watch as Tahlequah's student section stormed the court to celebrate with the Tiger players that pulled off an upset of the Comets.
In Bishop Kelley's final trip to Tahlequah as a member of the Metro Lakes Conference, the Comets avoided another court-rushing by holding off the Tigers for a nine-point victory on Friday night.
"Last year, we were walking out of here with a loss," Bishop Kelley coach Danny Limes said. "This is a tough place to play, and these guys do a great job. We knew were going to be in for a dogfight."
The Comets (11-7, 7-0) were led by Matt Craig, who went four-of-11 from the field and five-of-six from the free-throw line to score a game-high 15 points.
Chase Irwin also did his part for the Comets, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with 14 points, including a jumper from the left baseline that gave Bishop Kelley a 47-29 lead with 2:05 to play.
"When Chase hit that jumper in the corner to put us up back up by 8, that was a big basket," Limes said. "Chase just had a great game."
The closest Tahlequah (6-12, 3-4) would get in the latter stages of the fourth quarter was 5 on a 3-pointer by Will Carlile with 21 seconds left. But a combined four free throws from Josh Limes and Craig over the final 17 seconds put the game on ice for Bishop Kelley.
Irwin grabbed a team-high four offensive rebounds for Bishop Kelley, which converted 11 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points. Overall, Bishop Kelley out-rebounded Tahlequah, 37-26.
"They led us 11-3 in offensive rebounds and that's the margin of the game," Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. "...Not a real sharp offensive game from us."
Matt Alberty paced Tahlequah with 14 points, but the senior guard made only three of his 12 field-goal attempts. Jake Vader came off the bench to add 11 points and six rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 14-of-41 (34.1 percent) from the field.
Tahlequah will now prep for a quick turnaround with a game at Pryor tonight at 7:30. The girls game will get things started at 6.
Girls: Tahlequah 55, Bishop Kelley 32
BK 4 10 3 15 - 32
Tah 11 18 11 15 - 55
Bishop Kelley: McKenzie 6, Colon 5, Rauner 4, Ngo 4, Cooper 5, Berry 2, Wilson 2, Poarch 2, Trembley 2.
Tahlequah: Whitney Wright 18, Kacady Glory 15, Girdner 8, Chase 6, Clark 2, Wade 2, George 2, Bohannon 2.
Boys: Bishop Kelley 53, Tahlequah 44
BK 13 12 13 15 - 53
Tah 13 7 11 13 - 44
Bishop Kelley: Matt Craig 15, Chad Irwin 14, J.D. Limes 8, Josh Limes 6, Smith 6, Litzinger 4.
Tahlequah: Matt Alberty 14, Jake Vader 11, Carlile 8, Paris 6, Kelley 3, Faddis 1, Washington 1.