By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah had Bishop Kelley’s number last season. Well, almost.
The Lady Tigers dominated Bishop Kelley in 11 of 12 quarters played, but it was the fourth quarter in last season’s Class 5A regional title game that got away from Tahlequah.
The end result was a 46-44 triumph for Bishop Kelley, which sent Tahlequah to the loser’s bracket in the Class 5A area tournament.
“I thought a lot about that over the weekend,” Tahlequah coach Chad Walker said of the loss to the Lady Comets. “We have some of the best guards — I think, anyways — and we had the game in the bag and failed to put it away. We missed free throws and turned the ball over.”
The same could be said for Tahlequah’s most recent game — a 61-54 setback to Class 6A No. 9 Muskogee in the championship game of the UKB Tiger Invitational. The Lady Tigers, ranked seventh in Class 5A, led Muskogee by as much as eight in the fourth quarter, only to see the lead evaporate over the final three minutes.
“We have to be able to hold onto the ball at the end to be able to close,” Walker said. “What dictates a basketball game is time and situation. I think when we accomplish that, I think you’ll see us go on a big winning streak.”
Against 5A No. 8 Bishop Kelley tonight in Metro Lakes Conference play, the Lady Tigers will try to shut down Haley Stephens, who scored 23 points the last time she played against Tahlequah.
Walker, though, said it’s still about his club mastering its game plan.
“It’s still early in the season,” Walker said. “We just need to go out and perfect what we do.”
Tahlequah at Bishop Kelley
Where: Bishop Kelley High School (3905 S. Hudson Ave., Tulsa).
Nicknames: Tahlequah Tigers; Bishop Kelley Comets.
Records: Tahlequah (3-1, 1-0 Metro Lakes Conference); Bishop Kelley (2-1, 1-1).
Coaches: Tahlequah (Chad Walker); Bishop Kelley (Jade Allison).
About Tahlequah: The Lady Tigers are coming off a second-place finish in the UKB Tiger Invitational. ... Jhonett Cookson leads Tahlequah with 12 points a game.
About Bishop Kelley: The Lady Comets lost a one-point game their last time out, a 46-45 decision at Collinsville.
Records: Tahlequah (1-3, 0-1); Bishop Kelley (4-2, 2-0).
Coaches: Tahlequah (Mike Leafgreen); Bishop Kelley (Danny Limes).
About Tahlequah: The Tigers went 1-2 in the UKB Tiger Invitational over the weekend. Tahlequah’s lone win was over Sapulpa.
About Bishop Kelley: The Comets, coming off two straight losses to Kansas teams over the weekend, are ranked 13th in Class 5A.