TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah’s Lady Tigers saw things a whole lot clearer when it came to shooting free throws at Skiatook’s Multipurpose Activity Center Friday night.
Tahlequah nailed crucial free throws when the pressure on was against a scrappy Bulldog team to prevail 44-40 in a Metro Lakes Conference basketball thriller.
Randee O’Donnell hit 3-of-4 fourth quarter free throws to hold on for the win. O’Donnell finished with 10 points and nailed 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Overall, the Tigers hit 6-of-10 from the foul line.
After missing 14 free throws Tuesday night in a loss at Claremore, coach Chad Walker had a novel idea to break the poor shooting.
“I had them wear blindfolds during practice,” Walker said.
The idea worked.
“That’s all we’ve been working on,” O’Donnell said. “If you can make them with your eyes closed, you should be able to do it with your eyes open.”
It was a good game for Tahlequah. The free throw percentage was up and the turnovers (eight) were down. That proved to be a winning combination.
“I was proud of them,” Walker added. “They did a good job of getting rid of the fear (of shooting free throws).”
Hobbled Casey Beaston led the Tigers with 15 points and scored a team-high three, 3-point baskets. She did all this on a sore ankle.
“Considering I came back from a hurt ankle, I thought I played to the best of my ability,” Beaston added.
The victory was in sharp contrast to the 59-37 blowout against the Bulldogs early in the season. Skiatook coach Tatum Beer had a reason for the improvement.
“That was our second game of the season and most of my players had never played a varsity game,” Beer said. “I could not ask for a better bunch of girls. They would run through a brick wall if I asked them.”