High School Girls Basketball Notebook: Resilience
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
3/05/13 at 3:42 AM
Fort Gibson head coach Jerry Walker said he was proud of the way his 4A No. 2 girls bounced back Saturday after losing their first game of the season.
Friday's loss to Byng ended the Tigers' streak of area championships at eight. But they punched their ticket for a ninth straight trip to the state tournament with a 41-38 win over Muldrow the next night as Brooke Palmer scored 16 points.
"It's one thing to lose on Friday in the area tournament and another when it's your first loss of the year, with the disappointment that sets in," Walker said.
"We lost a lot of experience (from last year's state runner-up team) and it's refreshing to see a younger group come back and deal with that kind of pressure," he said.
The Tigers (26-1) face No. 5 Weatherford (24-2) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany.
Time to pray: East Central head coach Samy Mack took his team to church Sunday morning. The Cards were recognized during services at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 1228 W. Apache.
Mack's girls have reached the 5A title game in five of his previous seven seasons, winning gold balls in 2006-07 and finishing runner-up the past three years.
"We're just asking for that special prayer to get us through this week, and we might need to ask for some healing grace," he said.
The Cards have already lost senior standout Bria Pitts to a knee injury and sophomore Marcia Reed is still bothered by a January high ankle sprain.
To make matters worse, 6-foot-2 Sharayla Brown has been hobbled since tweaking her ankle in warm-ups before Thursday's 49-37 area win over Collinsville.
New kids: Broken Arrow's Darian Jackson and Alexis Gaulden are part of a freshman class that went 19-1 and won a Frontier Conference title as eighth-graders.
Each made contributions in Saturday's upset of Bartlesville. Jackson had six points and seven rebounds and Gaulden had two steals and four rebounds to go with two points.
"They've made contributions throughout the playoffs," coach Mike Hughes said. "It may not always be that they score a lot of points, but they'll get steals and rebounds."
Jackson had 11 points and Gaulden scored 10 in Thursday's win over Mustang. They are part of the reason the Tigers appear to have such a bright future.
Toree Thompson and Amari Dennis, both juniors, scored 18 and 17 against Bartlesville. At various times, Hughes had five non-seniors on the floor.
The tough 'T': Tahlequah's Randee O'Donnell missed last Thursday's area win over Memorial, still hobbled by the high ankle sprain she sustained in the regional tournament. But head coach Chad Walker said he won't be surprised if the 5-foot-7 junior finds a way to play in the state tournament.
"I've coached high school and college ball, boys and girls, and she's the toughest kid I've ever coached," Walker said. "If nothing else, we'll throw her in there to throw inbounds passes because she's so smart."
O'Donnell was averaging 10.2 points and 3.7 rebounds. The Tigers (17-9) open at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Carl Albert (21-6) at Catoosa High School.