By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
PARK HILL — Sydni Rainbolt and Mylee Hewitt led the Keys girls to a 52-48 victory over the Fort Gibson junior varsity squad Tuesday night at Cougar Fieldhouse in the first round of the Cougar Invitational.
Rainbolt led the Cougars with 28 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. Hewitt filled the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 30 minutes of work.
“We got a great performance from those two tonight,” Keys coach Mickey Duncan said. “Our team is better when Sydni touches the ball a lot. She had plenty of touches in the first half, and we got out to a big lead.”
Keys jumped out to a 15-point advantage in the first quarter and led 21-9 after one. A combined 10-point second quarter saw the home team take a 25-15 lead into intermission. Keys stretched its lead to 39-27 at the end of the third quarter, and it looked like all was good for the Lady Cougars.
Seemingly out of nowhere, however, the Lady Tigers scored eight points in the first 1:22 of the fourth quarter, and the visitors found themselves down just 39-35.
“We went away from what we were doing in the first half,” said Duncan, whose team advances to take on Poteau in the tournament semifinals on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. “We lost a little bit of our defensive intensity, but sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. I’m happy we were able to stay composed and find a way to win.”
Keys stretched the lead back out to eight, but Fort Gipson went on a 6-0 run to make the score 43-41 with just 2:55 to play. The Lady Cougars nearly let the game slip away, but a triple from Hewitt at 2:39 and a Rainbolt jumper at 1:48 (with an assist from Hewitt) gave the home team just enough of a cushion to hold on for the four-point triumph.
“Our defense is still a work in progress, and we realize that,” Duncan said. “When (Sydni and Mylee) weren’t touching the ball, we weren’t making shots. We have to be tougher than that.”
Emilee Rigsby paced the Lady Tigers with 20 points, five boards and three assists. Aaliyah Lee pulled down 11 rebounds and scored seven points. Fort Gibson JV falls to the consolation bracket and will take on Oklahoma City Centennial on Friday at 7:20 p.m.
Keys 57, Poteau 42 (boys)
Keys looked early like it would be in for a long night, but the Cougars ended up cruising to a 57-42 victory over Poteau in the first round of the Cougars Invitational on Tuesday night at Cougar Fieldhouse.
The Pirates came out on fire and built a 14-5 advantage through the opening 6:12, but Keys was able to salvage a respectable first-quarter deficit of just 15-9.
“We came out a little flat in the first quarter,” Keys coach Duane Jones said. “I think after the Sequoyah game the other night, I’m not sure we were in to this game as much as we were for that one.”
The Cougars were able to clamp down on defense, however, and turn the game completely around by outscoring the visitors 13-3 in the second quarter.
“Poteau came out on fire and we missed some easy ones, but we got it going and we had an excellent second quarter,” Jones said. “I think that was the turning point of the game.”
Keys would go on to outscore Poteau 35-24 in the second half and take home the 15-point triumph.
The Cougars shot a blistering 52 percent from the field (26 of 50), and the team held the visitors to just 33-percent shooting (15 of 45).
Payton Ragsdale led Keys with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“Payton has had solid numbers for us almost every game now,” Jones said. “It’s really nice to have a big guy that you can go to when you need a score.”
Trevor Eubanks played all but one minute and finished with 16 points and six rebounds, and Mason Turman added 10 points for the home side.
The Cougars will now face Vinita on Thursday night at 5:50 for a spot in the tournament finals.
Kendrick Hardaway paced Poteau with 19 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. He was the only member of the team in double figures. Poteau will take on Fort Gibson JV on Friday at 8:45 p.m.
Keys Cougars Invitational
Game 1: Holland Hall def. Hale
Game 2: Muldrow 71, Tahlequah JV 40
Game 3: Poteau def. OKC Centennial
Game 4: Keys 52, Fort Gibson JV 48
Game 5: Poteau vs. Keys, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6: Holland Hall vs. Muldrow, 7:20 p.m.
Game 7: Hale vs. Tahlequah JV, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: OKC Centennial vs. Fort Gibson JV, 7:20 p.m.
Game 9: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 11: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 12: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 1: Holland Hall def. Hale
Game 2: Muldrow 78, Tahlequah JV 28
Game 3: Vinita def. Fort Gibson JV
Game 4: Keys 57, Poteau 42
Game 5: Vinita vs. Keys, 5:50 p.m.
Game 6: Holland Hall vs. Muldrow, 8:45 p.m.
Game 7: Hale vs. Tahlequah JV, 5:50 p.m.
Game 8: Fort Gibson JV vs. Poteau, 8:45 p.m.
Game 9: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 11:30 a.m.
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Game 11: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 5:30 p.m.
Game 12: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8:30 p.m.