SKIATOOK — Despite forcing more than 20 Bulldog turnovers, Tahlequah could not overcome an icy start from the field Friday night and closed out its regular season with a 69-57 loss.
Shooting one-for-nine from the field in the first quarter, the Tigers were forced to play catch up all night before a rowdy Senior Night crowd at the Skiatook Mutipurpose Activity Center.
“We played a good ballgame, just not a good offensive first quarter,” Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. “We got outscored there, but we outscored them the rest of the night. We’re talking three- and four-point quarters, one of which we won.”
Senior guard Matt Alberty paced Tahlequah with 16 points. Skiatook sophomore Jake Surrette led all scorers with 20.
Tahlequah’s postseason run starts with a trip west, as the Tigers travel to No. 7 Edmond Deer Creek (13-8) Friday night. Other teams in the regional include Pryor (11-10) and No. 16 Oklahoma City Northwest Classen (10-9). The Antlers are currently riding a three-game winning streak with victories over Noble, McAlester and Guthrie.
“We’ve got four good prep days for that,” Dotson said. “We’ll go over Friday and see what we can get going.
“We’ll be trying to get video from other coaches, from our coaching colleagues and breaking it down to see what they do well and how we’ll match up physically.”
Like Tahlequah, Skiatook (8-13) heads to the Oklahoma City area for regionals along with Metro Lakes rivals Coweta and Collinsville. The Bulldogs take on No. 8 Del City (9-14) Friday at 8 p.m.
In the early game, seven fourth quarter turnovers by the Lady Tigers opened the door for the Skiatook Lady Bulldogs to run away with a 52-36 victory.
Tied at 29 through the end of the third quarter, Tahlequah scored a quick three early in the fourth quarter, then struggled with ball control for the rest of game, allowing Skiatook to build a double-digit lead.
The Lady Tigers were also forced to try to close out the game without senior starting forward Whitney Wright, who picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. Despite her extended time on the bench, Wright led Tahlequah with 13 points.
“We had to sit her (Wright) for a little bit and that hurt us pretty good,” coach Johnny Dyson said. “Whenever she goes out it’s rough on us, as she’s one of our leaders.”
Skiatook sophomore Mikayla Shulanberger led all scorers with 22, including 10 in the first quarter alone.
In order to make a return trip to the Big House, the Lady Tigers must break their four-game losing streak and by getting past Del City (8-14) Thursday night at Edmond Deer Creek High School. The only Class 5A school in the Mid-State Conference, all but five of Del City’s games have been against larger schools, including Class 6A No. 4 Midwest City and Class 6A No. 8 Norman.
“Our mission now is Del City,” Dyson said. “We wanted to build momentum with this game, but we’ll be building it in practice starting Monday. We’ll be watching film on them and trying to get a good feel for them.”
The Lady Bulldogs (12-10) open regional play Thursday night at Tulsa East Central against fellow Metro Lakes Conference member Coweta.
Skiatook 52, Tahlequah 36 (girls)
Tahlequah 11 11 7 7 36
Skiatook 16 5 8 23 52
Tahlequah: Wright 13, Girdner 11, Glory 5, Wade 3, Clarke 2, George 2
Skiatook: Shulenberger 22, Schulte 12, Stuckey 6, Linicome 5, Burdette 5
Skiatook 69, Tahlequah 57 (boys)
Tahlequah 3 19 17 18 57
Skiatook 13 22 12 22 69
Tahlequah: Alberty 16, Paris 12, Carlile 9, Smith 8, Craig 7, Kelley 5
Skiatook: Surrette 20, Lester 13, Massey 11, Wilkerson 7, Haynes 6, Sumner 5, A. Upton 3, S. Upton 2, Appelberg 2