Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

February 28, 2013

Tahlequah set to face Memorial for area championship

Visiting teams have found trips to the TMAC very unpleasant this season. Tahlequah has been nearly unbeatable at 591 Pendleton Street.

Only two teams — Muskogee in the UKB Tiger Invitational finals and Bishop McGuinness in a meaningless game late in the regular season — left the TMAC feeling better about themselves than when they arrived.

Tahlequah sported a 10-2 mark at the TMAC, with most of the 10 wins coming by double digits or more.

Life on the road has been a bit of a different story for Class 5A No. 7 Tahlequah. In 13 games outside of Cherokee County, the Lady Tigers are 6-7. Of the seven losses, two came at the Siloam Springs (Ark.) tournament, one was in double overtime against Choctaw in the Moore tournament and the rest occurred during Metro Lakes Conference play (Bishop Kelley, Claremore and Collinsville).

“We don’t do anything different away than at home,” Tahlequah forward Paige Carnes said. “We just need to stay more focused than usual. We know that these next few games mean a lot — more than others and we want to go to state. It’s all we can focus on.”

Tahlequah will have to make some adjustments from this point on, because there are no more home games left for anyone in high school basketball. It all begins Thursday night when Tahlequah takes on No. 14 Memorial in the area championship game at 6:30 p.m. in Sapulpa.

“They’ve got a very good player,” Tahlequah coach said of Memorial’s Faith Ihim, who averages 23.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. “...We’re going to do our best to box them out and get them in foul trouble and go from there.”

Fresh off its first regional championship since 2001, Tahlequah is coming off a 68-63 victory over Chickasha on Saturday. The Lady Tigers were able to pull that off despite not having junior guard Randee O’Donnell, who suffered a lower-leg injury in Tahlequah’s regional-opening win over Coweta.

O’Donnell had the cast removed off of her left leg, but the likelihood of her playing against the Chargers is slim — at best.

“Win or loss, we were hoping she might be available for Saturday,” said Walker, whose team wouldn’t have to play Saturday if it beats the Chargers. “If we win, that’s bonus for us, because then she gets an extra week of rest.”

Stepping up in O’Donnell’s absence against Chickasha was point guard Marisa Girdner, who scored a team-high 19 points.

“She did a good job; she was focused,” Walker said of Girdner. “With Whitney (Wright) in there, it gives Marisa some help and an occasional break.”

Also against Chickasha, freshman Lindsay Wade scored a career-high 15 points while Casey Beaston and Whitney Wright both scored in double figures. The Lady Tigers also tallied their season-high point total.

They’ll need a similar effort if they want to reach the final week of the season.

“I know they are good athletes,” Carnes said of Memorial, “and we have some starters out, but as long as we hustle and just play smart, we should come out with the win.”

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