Muskogee tops Tigers, advances to championship game

Byron Beers | Daily Press

Tahlequah's Cale Matlock drives the baseline as Muskogee's Mekeion Payne defends during the first half Friday at the TMAC.

TAHLEQUAH — Muskogee got a game-high 18 points from JaVonte Campbell and used a 15-0 third quarter run to pull away from Tahlequah in a 59-33 win in Friday’s nightcap of the Tahlequah Invitational at the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center.

The Roughers, who remain unbeaten and move to 3-0, also received 12 points from James Brown and 10 from Xavier Brown, who poured in 32 against McAlester on Thursday.

Mekeion Payne started Muskogee’s surge in the third with a 3-pointer that put the Roughers up 35-21 at the 4:32 mark. Xavier Brown followed with a basket, James Brown knocked down a pair of 3s, JaVonte Campbell had an inside score, and Jaruan Campbell capped the run with a score from inside the paint to make it 47-21.

Muskogee, who advances to Saturday’s championship game against Bixby, was coming off a 96-45 win over McAlester on the opening day of the invitational.

“It was slow and it wasn’t pretty, but the third quarter we kinda got it out a little bit,” Muskogee head coach Lynwood Wade said. “Sometimes you have those games after coming off such a spectacular shooting game. The 3s weren’t falling tonight, but we still found a way to win.”

The Class 5A No. 15 Tigers, who drop to 2-2 under first-year head coach Marcus Klingsick, couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end after sophomore forward Hayden Smith went down with an ankle injury early in the first quarter. Smith was coming off a career-high 20 points in the Tigers’ 59-56 win over Oklahoma City Storm Thursday. Smith is questionable for Saturday’s third-place game against Tulsa East Central.

“The first couple minutes of the game was going the way we wanted it to,” Klingsick said. “We were slowing it down and dictating what was going on. I thought we were doing what we wanted to do but then they hit a shot and then Hayden got hurt and I think that took a little bit out of us.”

Muskogee limited Tahlequah to just three field goals in the first quarter, and the Tigers trailed 26-16 at the break.

“The difference for us was on the defensive end,” Wade said. “We turned it up on the defensive end, forced a lot of turnovers and got easy buckets. I’m proud of our guys. It’s a win, and we got a win when we didn’t play well offensively.”

The Roughers, aided by its defense and four points apiece from Jaruan Campbell and Xavier Brown, started to get separation in the first quarter with 13 straight points that gave them a 14-3 lead. They went up by as many as 15 points in the second after consecutive baskets by JaVonte Campbell and Ty Williams.

“We just didn’t handle the ball very well,” Klingsick said. “It kind of surprised me that we didn’t handle it, so we need to be much better at that. [Muskogee] has great athletes out there getting their hands in passing lanes.”

JaVonte Campbell scored 11 of his points in the second half. He had seven field goals and went 4 of 7 from the free throw line.

“He’s a guy who’s going to get it done for us every night,” Wade said. “I put him on the best offensive player every night and he’s just an X factor. He gets steals, he slithers through there, he makes plays that you think he’s not going to make but he makes them. To me, he’s the glue of the team.”

Junior guard Tyler Joice led the Tigers with 10 points, eight of those coming on four field goals in the second quarter. Tyson Louie added six points, and Trey Young and Hayden Wagers closed with four each. Young had a career-high 19 points on Thursday against Oklahoma City Storm.

Saturday’s championship game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Bixby, ranked 20th in 6A and unbeaten at 3-0, defeated Oklahoma City Storm, 79-59, Friday to advance to the finals.

The third-place game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

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