Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

December 5, 2012

Tahlequah set to host Tiger Invitational

After being void from the calendar last season, Tahlequah’s annual basketball tournament is back. And it’s back with a vengeance this year.

“Looking at the tournament brackets across the state this week,” Tahlequah boys coach Mike Leafgreen said, “I think we have the best boys side bracket in the state.”

The Edmond Open and Bixby Invitational figure to have strong fields with Class 5A and 6A teams, too, but Leafgreen filled out an eight-team bracket that includes his club, Moore, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Muskogee, Coweta, Enid and SOYLA (Save Our Youth Leadership Academy).

Not bad at all.

“Moore and Coweta are both pretty good,” Leafgreen said of the Lions (15th in 6A) and the Tigers (seventh in 5A), respectively. “There will be some teams that go 1-2 and are better than that.”

For Tahlequah, the tournament kicks off against Sapulpa on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the TMAC. SOYLA and Muskogee will follow at 2:30 p.m.; Coweta and Enid will square off at 5:30 p.m.; and Moore and Sand Springs will play the nightcap at 8:30 p.m.

The first round of the tournament will be only the second games of the season for both Tahlequah and Sapulpa. Yet, Leafgreen knows what to expect from the Chieftains.

“They’re going to be very athletic,” he said. “We saw them last year in the Shawnee tournament, and they can shoot the ball really well. We have to limit them to one shot and go score on the other end.”

In order to slow down Sapulpa’s starting five of DeShawn Zachary, Sam Gottsch, Ben Johnson, Sam Johnson and Larry Marshall, Tahlequah will have to avoid another repeat performance like it had against Skiatook in a 63-60, season-opening loss last week.

“We will have to get back to playing defense like we did last spring — like we did last year in the Shrine tournament,” Leafgreen said. “We can’t do that we did the other night. If we do that, we can get beat by anyone.”

On offense against Skiatook, Lain Wright led Tahlequah — and all scorers — with 28 points. However, he was the only Tiger to score in double figures.

“On the offensive end, we’ll be fine,” Leafgreen said. “We had the open looks [against Skiatook]. Having your best shooters taking your shots is what you want. We won’t have another game like that.”

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