MUSKOGEE - Jacob Todd connected on the back end of a pair of free-throw attempts to give Tahlequah a one point lead with 2.7 seconds left and a desperate Checotah three-point attempt fell short as the Tigers held on for a 51-50 victory in the first round of the 26th annual Bedouin Shrine Classic at Major Ron D. Milam Memorial Gymnasium in Muskogee Wednesday night.

The win improves the Tigers’ season record to 3-3 and sends them into a winner’s bracket contest against the Wagoner Bulldogs Friday night at 9 p.m. in the Muskogee Civic Center.

The first half was a slow, low-scoring affair with the Wildcats setting the pace. Marcus Tyner scored on a free throw and a 3-pointer and Matt Qualls put a rebound through the hoop to account for the only Tiger points as Checotah led 8-6 after one period.

The second stanza saw Tahlequah take over the tempo of the game in the final two minutes before intermission. Checotah increased their lead to 12-6 before a 5-0 run, sparked by a basket by Jacob Todd and an old fashioned three-point play by Matt Qualls, cut the deficit to 12-11.

The Tigers put on the defensive clamps in the final 4:50 of the second, holding the Wildcats to a single free throw.

Tahlequah took their first lead of the game at 14-12 on a three-point bomb by Marcus Tyner. One more three-point basket, this one by David Qualls gave the Tigers a 17-12 advantage at the half.

Matt Qualls had a huge third period, scoring 13 of Tahlequah’s 20 points. Jacob Etzkorn and Todd added baskets and 6-foot-5 transfer Shawn Taylor scored on the first field goal attempt of his career to help the Tigers’ cause.

Tyner chipped in with a free throw to increase the Tigers point total to 37 at the end of three, but Checotah was even hotter, outscoring Tahlequah by five points to take a 38-37 lead heading into the fourth.

The Wildcats switched their defense to key on Matt Qualls and did succeed in limiting the freshman to two points in the final eight minutes. Etzkorn, Tyner and Jordan Holderby picked up the slack to give the Tigers 43-38 with 5:55 left in regulation.

A five-point Checotah run tied the game at 43 with 3:38 to play.

A shot by Tyner at the 2:32 mark fell through and a foul was called to give the junior a chance to put the Tigers up by three. Tyner’s free-throw attempt was good, and Tahlequah led 48-45.

Checotah hit a clutch 3-pointer to knot the game at 48-48. Etzkorn put the Tigers up 50-48 with a put-back off of a miss by Matt Qualls.

The Wildcats fought back and tied the contest at 50 with 18.9 seconds left on the clock.

Coach Leroy Qualls set up his offense for the Tigers who milked the clock down to 3 seconds when Todd drove the lane and was fouled in the act of shooting with 2.7 ticks remaining.

Todd’s first attempt rattled off the rim, but the senior shook off the miss and sent his second shot sailing through the net, giving Tahlequah a 51-50 lead.

Checotah in-bounded the ball and fired off a shot at midcourt, but it was short and wide to the left, preserving the victory for the Tigers.

Matt Qualls led the Tigers with 20 points while Tyner pitched in with 13.

Tahlequah vs. Checotah

Tahlequah 6 1 20 14 - 51

Checotah 8 5 25 12 - 50

THS - Matt Qualls 20, Marcus Tyner 13, Jacob Etzkorn 6, Jacob Todd 5, David Qualls 3, Jordan Holderby 2, Shawn Taylor 2

CHS - Cord Murrell 22, John Carlis 10, Spencer Nero 6, Rohan Patel 5, Pete McLemore 5, Cody Rock 2

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