By BEN JOHNSON
No one had figured out how to stop Collinsville's Shelbie Kirby through six games this season. Tahlequah didn't seem to have a problem doing so on Friday night.
The Class 5A No. 7 Lady Tigers smothered Kirby — holding her to eight points on 4 of 19 shooting — en route to a 52-43 victory in Metro Lakes Conference play at the TMAC.
"We're a good defensive team when we're playing packed-in defense," Tahlequah coach Chad Walker said. "We're focused on helping our teammate, and I think that's when we're at our best."
Tahlequah's defense flustered Collinsville for most of the game, limiting the Lady Cardinals to 17 of 46 shooting from the field. And for the first time this season, Collinsville didn't have a single player score in double figures.
The Lady Tigers (4-2, 2-1 Metro Lakes Conference) weren't much better while tossing up shots, posting a 29.1-percent shooting percentage while only making 16 of 55 field goals. However, take away a 0-of-15 effort in the fourth quarter and Tahlequah shot a modest 40 percent (16 of 40).
Casey Beaston led Tahlequah with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Randee O'Donnell added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Toss in eight points from Marisa Girdner and six points from Jhonett Cookson and Tahlequah's starting five outscored Collinsville's 36-23.
"They did a good job," Walker said of his starters.
Yet, it was one of Tahlequah's reserves with a key moment in the contest.
After Collinsville went on a 9-2 run to start the second quarter to force a 20-20 tie (the only one of the game), Tahlequah's Alissa Hadley buried two key 3-pointers — in between a jumper from Desiree Phipps — to give the Lady Tigers a 28-20 edge.
Tahlequah would take a 28-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Lady Tigers would take their largest lead of the game during a 42-second stretch in the third quarter.
With 3:13 left in the third period and Tahlequah ahead 36-26, Collinsville turned the ball over when it failed to exit its huddle in a timely manner during a timeout. The Lady Cardinals were called for a five-second violation, which Tahlequah followed with a short jumper from Beaston.
Then, Girdner intercepted Collinsville's ensuing inbounds pass and easily converted on a point-blank layup.
Collinsville (5-2, 2-1) would never recover.
Collinsville coach Kelly Clarke did not make him available for comments following the game.
Tahlequah will be at home again Saturday when it hosts Coweta. Collinsville will be at Claremore on Tuesday.
Tahlequah 52, Collinsville 43
Cville 11 11 6 15 -- 43
Tah 18 10 14 10 -- 52
Cville (5-2, 2-1): Shelbie Kirby 8, Jefferson 8, Wheeler 6, Clark 6, Vaughn 4, Smith 4, Driggers 3, Salisbury 2, H. Kirby 2.
Tahlequah (4-2, 2-1): Casey Beaston 12, Randee O'Donnell 10, Desiree Phipps 9, Marisa Girdner 8, Jhonett Cookson 6, Alissa Hadley 6.
Tigers trip up Collinsville to snap 3-game skid
Tahlequah made up for 21 turnovers by shooting 22 of 42 from the field in a 53-39 triumph over Collinsville on Friday night.
Lain Wright led the Tigers with 12 points, while Dalton Cunningham and Jake Vader both posted 10 points apiece as Tahlequah snapped a three-game losing streak.
"Had some guys step up and contribute off the bench and gave us a huge lift," Tahlequah coach Mike Leafgreen said. "...Every game [we're] working on getting better at the little things."
The Tigers (2-4, 1-2 Metro Lakes Conference) delivered a haymaker to the Cardinals early on, jumping out to a 17-4 advantage, which ended up being 19-6 at the end of the first period. The Tigers torched the nets early on, making nine of 15 field goal in the first quarter.
From there, Tahlequah would hold Collinsville at arm's length the rest of the way.
Collinsville (0-4, 0-3) got within nine (39-30) with 5:35 left in the game, but Tahlequah defused any kind of run by the Cardinals in the final period.
The Cardinals weren't much better in the turnover department, handing the ball over 22 times.
Kanyon Cole led the way for Collinsville with 14 points and eight rebounds. Zane McElroy tossed in 11 points, and Nate Johnson provided a spark off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds.
Tahlequah 53, Collinsville 39
Cville 6 10 7 16 -- 39
Tah 19 8 10 16 -- 53
Collinsville (0-4, 0-3): Kanyon Cole 14, Zane McElroy 11, Nate Johnson 8, Curtis 4, Kocheski 2.
Tahlequah (2-4, 1-2): Lain Wright 12, Jake Vader 10, Dalton Cunningham 10, Dick 7, Madison 4, Carlile 3, McMillan 2, Craig 2, Faddis 1.