Tahlequah Daily Press

December 14, 2013

Tahlequah falls short against No. 6 MacArthur

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com



Tahlequah wanted to see how it measured up against other 5A competition. Well, there was no better time to do that than Saturday night at the TMAC.

Against 5A No. 6 Lawton MacArthur, Tahlequah fell behind early and never could catch up in a 60-49 loss to the Highlanders in the third-place game of the 2013 Tahlequah Tiger Invitational.

"That's what we talked about," Tahlequah coach Pat Dotson said. "This is a big tournament. You look across the state of Oklahoma and this is a pretty loaded tournament over here in the boys bracket. And even the 5A clubs in here are pretty quality programs, so understanding where we are against a team like that [is important]."

Playing as the tournament's No. 2 seed, MacArthur had to settle for third place after being knocked off by Van Buren (Ark.) on Friday night. But the Highlanders ended up leaving the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center 2-1 on the weekend.

Barry Williams led the Highlanders (2-2) with 16 points, and Trace Cook chipped in with 14 points.

MacArthur, who trailed 11-9 at the end of the first period, was able to pull ahead for good in the second quarter. With Tahlequah leading 16-15, the Highlanders rattled off 13 unanswered points to take a 28-16 advantage. And for good measure, Cook buried a 3-pointer right before the final buzzer of the first half to give MacArthur a 31-18 edge.

"Against athletic teams like that," Dotson said, "you have to finish."

The Tigers (1-3) put up plenty of shot attempts (51) but managed to only make 19 of them. MacArthur wasn't much better, converting on only 20 of 47 field-goal tries.

Dalton Cunningham led Tahlequah with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Alberty added 12 points in the losing cause.

Tahlequah wrapped up the tournament 1-2 after beating Enid on the first day. And despite the loss on the final day, it was a vast improvement over Tahlequah's 40-point loss to Sand Springs on Friday night.

"We learned a lesson from (Friday) night," Dotson said. "I thought we handled pressure well, and we had some real good looks but we just couldn't convert. I was really pleased with our defensive effort. We just have to do better in transition and read situations better, but we played much better."



Lawton MacArthur 60, Tahlequah 49

Mac     9     22     13     16     -     60

Tah     11     7     15     16     -     49

MacArthur (2-2): Barry Williams 16, Trace Cook 14, Meisel 9, Brown 9, Allen 5, Burns 3, Isaih 2, Washington 2.

Tahlequah (1-3): Dalton Cunningham 15, Matt Alberty 12, Smith 9, Vader 6, Carlile 5, Faddis 2.