INOLA — Things were bittersweet in the semifinals of the Jerry Oquin high school basketball tournament Thursday night.
At least for the home teams.
The Inola Lady Longhorns earned the right to advance to the finals with a 43-30 win over Wagoner, while Siloam Springs, Ark., routed the Inola boys, 60-37.
The Inola girls will play Class 5A No.2-ranked Coweta on Saturday for the tournament championship.
Stillwell will face the Longhorn boys Friday, with the winner advancing to play for third-place on Saturday.
It was the Kelsey Sears Show. Period.
The sophomore center dominated.
She accounted for nearly half of the Lady Longhornsí points, contributing 21 on 10-of-16 shooting.
She had two steals. Eleven rebounds.
The next four highest-scoring Longhorns combined, including Megan Houck with seven points, couldn’t hope to match Sears’ total.
“She’s got a chance to be a force in the game,” Inola coach Rick Ott said. “She’s a great kid. Very smart. She shoots the ball around the free throw line just as well as anyone we’ve got.”
Sears and the Longhorns came out shooting, but defensive swagger took the stage early on.
Six unanswered points came after Bailey Gins’ steal on the opening possession.
Kara Sanders and Sears got into the mix as well, each adding a steal in the first quarter while the Lady Bulldogs were held to five points.
Inola led at halftime, 20-14.
From there, it was all Inola.
Houck’s kiss off the glass at 4:45 of the third cemented a 26-16 advantage, and the margin increased to as much as 17 by the start of the fourth.
Sanders finished with four steals, compliments of a fourth quarter where she had three — with two coming seconds apart in a sequence that added another string of unanswered points.
Janae McJunkins led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points.
The Longhorns, now poised to take on Coweta, are in the tournament championship for the first time in three years.
And they’re facing one of their toughest challenges in years.
“Descriptive: They’re good. Real good,” Ott said. “They are very deserving of being ranked No. 2 in 5A.”
Despite Thursday’s win, quick improvement is needed for the 4A Longhorns pull off an upset, he said.
“The last couple of ball games, we’íve had too many turnovers and missed easy shots,” he said. “That was uncharacteristic.”
If anyone from Siloam Springs is to blame, the Longhorns know who.
They know all too well.
His name is Coleson Rakestraw.
He teed off from beyond the 3-point arc virtually uncontested, downing 27 points en route to the Panthers’ blowout win.
“We tried man-to-man. We tried to zone him,” Inola coach Clyde Barkley said. “He’s just a good player.”
It didn’t take long for Rakestraw and company to get rolling.
Rakestraw’s 3-pointer at 3:30 in the first put the Panthers on top, 10-4.
The Longhorns managed two baskets between runs by the Siloam Springs offense — an 8-0 spurt late in the first, then a 4-0 to open the second — before dealing a surge of their own.
Jared Cotton’s short jumper at 6:10 of the second put a cap on an 8-0 dash for Inola.
But Rakestraw and Ryan Ostrander took some back. And it stayed.
“We missed too many easy shots,” Barkley said. “(Our statistics) pretty much tell the story.”
The Longhorns downed just 28 percent of their attempts (14-of-49) and committed 19 turnovers.
At halftime, they trailed, 35-15, and fell behind by as many as 28 during the fourth period.
INOLA 43, WAGONER 30
Inola 11 9 15 8 — 43
Wagoner 5 9 4 12 — 30
Inola — Sears 21, Houck 7, Sanders 4, Crane 4, Swanson 4, Mathews 2, Gins 1.
Wagoner — McJunkins 14, Pierce 4, Reel 4, Nunn 4, Fault 2, Monk 2.
SILOAM SPRINGS 60, INOLA 37
Siloam Springs 18 17 12 13 — 60
Inola 9 6 11 11 — 37
Siloam Springs — Rakestraw 27, Eshnaur 18, Ostrander 10, Knoner 3, Brooker 2.
Inola — Cotton 9, Aaron Weaver 7, Elseman 6, Alex Weaver 5, Stone 4, Feemster 4.