Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

December 19, 2012

Reserve power

Bench play powers Tahlequah to conference win over Pryor.

As the fouls mounted up in the first half, Chad Walker had to turn to his bench.

No big deal.

Lindsay Wade, Reagan Clark and Paige Carnes turned in valuable minutes to guide Tahlequah to a 65-33 rout of Pryor on Tuesday night.

“Our bench did a good job,” said Walker, Tahlequah’s coach who got 22 points from his bench. “The bench came in and did a good job in the first half, with JoJo (Jhonett Cookson), Marisa (Girdner) and Whitney (Wright) all having two fouls.”

Cookson led Tahlequah with 17 points and nine rebounds before resting on the bench for the majority of the second half.

In fact, Cookson appeared early on like she could be a candidate for a triple-double with three blocks in the first three minutes of the contest. However, the 6-foot-1 sophomore only had one more block the rest of the way.

“JoJo ought to be doing that every game,” Walker said of Cookson, who led Tahlequah to a 43-18 rebounding advantage. “In my view, the only thing that stops her is her.”

In front of a relatively quiet crowd of 350 at the TMAC, Tahlequah led wire to wire, only to be threatened in the opening stanza.

Tahlequah sprinted out to a 7-0 lead before Pryor responded with a 7-2 run. Tahlequah, though, took advantage of Pryor’s overzealous full-court pressure and went on a 8-0 run to end the first period.

“They got in that silly press, and we got eight to 10 points right off the bat,” Walker said. “As a matter of fact, I looked up with two minutes left in the first quarter, and I told Randee (O’Donnell), ‘quit trying to run an offense.’ We have a fast break that we run, so I said, ‘just run the fast break the whole time.’ We were beating them all down the floor and getting pretty good shots.”

It was never a game from that point on.

Tahlequah recorded its highest point total of the year, eclipsing its previous high of 59 in a season-opening win over Skiatook.

Casey Beaston added 12 points for Tahlequah, which shot 41.7 percent (20 of 48) from the field — if you take away the 2-of-11 showing with the game already in hand in the fourth quarter.

Jaclyn True paced Pryor with 12 points. Kelsie Kerns added 10 points for Pryor, which was a dismal 11 of 45 (24.4 percent) from the floor.

Already a half game up on Collinsville in the Metro Lakes Conference standings, Tahlequah improved to 4-1 in league play and 6-2 overall.

“I just got done telling them that I’m really proud of them,” Walker said of his postgame speech. “We haven’t even played our best ball and we’re 6-2. I can’t wait to see what happens when they mature and gel together.”

Pryor fell to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in Metro Lakes Conference play.

Tahlequah will be off until Dec. 27, when it’ll begin play in the Siloam Springs tournament in Arkansas.

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