INOLA – Inola gave Class 5A No. 1 Coweta a scare, but in the end sophomore guard Linda Price dashed the Lady Longhorns’ upset bid.
Price scored on a layup with 16 seconds remaining, propelling the Lady Tigers to a 53-51 victory in a first round game of the Jerry Oquin Tournament Tuesday night at the Inola Indoor Sports Arena.
Coach Ronnie Maple’s Longhorns appeared ready to cap a furious second half rally until missed free throws and turnovers proved fatal to their cause. Inola hit just 16-of-27 foul shots and committed 21 turnovers in falling to 0-3.
“We battled back and were good in the second half,’’ said Maple. “We’re a very young team and we’ve got to play harder and stay together. Part of missing free throws and turnovers is being young. We’ve got to find a way to get a win.’’
Inola’s roster is made up of five freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and just one senior. Junior Kelsie Roberts scored 16 points to lead the Longhorns with sophomore Kylee Day adding 11 points and nine rebounds.
Price’s 18 points topped the Tigers followed by Madison Wheat’s 17, all in the first half, before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
The Longhorns twice trailed by 14 points and were out on a ledge when Allyson Mercer scored to give the Tigers a 36-22 lead early in the second half. Coweta was shooting 50 percent from the field and leading 45-38 entering the final period.
“Our intensity and aggressiveness was a lot better in the second half,’’ Maple said. “In the second half we wanted to keep the ball out of her (Wheat’s) hands. They have two really good guard who can shoot. Our girls have to get better at making good decisions on offense.
“We’re always disappointed with a loss, but we can look at the positives and try to get better. We just played three really good teams close (also losing to 4A No. 1 Fort Gibson and No. 6 4A Vinita) and I feel like we’re right there.’’
Inola was certainly “right there’’ against Coweta, taking a 50-49 lead on freshman Macy Eaves’ trey with 1:54 left. Price gave the lead back to the Tigers, cashing two free throws, before Longhorn Madison Courtney nailed one of two foul shots for a tie at 1:24.
Another Inola turnover led to Price’s game breaking layup and Coweta (4-0) survived.
Due to expected inclement weather for the weekend, changes in the tournament schedule were announced on Tuesday. Friday’s consolation round games were moved to Wednesday with Saturday’s final day changed to Friday. Winner’s bracket semifinals remain on Thursday with the Inola boys set to play at 8:30 pm.