Brian Johnson Special Correspondent
Byng head coach Matt Fike likes the way his Lady Pirates have bought into their adjusted roles since the loss of senior guard McKenzie Hudson due to injury.
Evidence of that came Friday night in the semifinals of the Patriot Ford Byng Pirate Invitational at Bill Koller Fieldhouse.
Byng, behind a game-high 16 points from sophomore guard Asya Tims, knocked off Class 3A 15th-ranked Okemah, 53-38, to advance to Saturday night’s championship game against Madill.
The cat-quick Tims not only inflicted damage on the Lady Panthers in the scoring department but hustled for five rebounds, recorded two steals and added an assist in her outing.
Fike called Tims’ effort possibly the best of her young high school career.
“Anytime she’s running the offense and scoring the ball, good things are going to happen,” Fike said. “A couple of times, her shot selection was off. But she’s very athletic and moves side to side really well. She’s an all-around good kid and hard worker.”
Tims knocked down 4-of-10 shots from the floor and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Her effort was particularly important, considering senior forward Alexis Hill fell into first-half foul trouble and sat for most of the second quarter.
Alexis Hill finished with 11 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Though she picked up her fourth foul, she was never forced to exit with her fifth. She also registered a team-high nine rebounds.
The Lady Pirates also received solid play off the bench from sophomore forward Kendall Fike, who ended up with eight points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Shadley Grove followed with seven points, four boards, two assists and a steal, and Tatum Hill tacked on six points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field.
Defensively, Byng forced 12 turnovers and owned a 36-33 rebounding edge.
“We have to keep playing defense. We had a few breakdowns defensively when we didn’t rebound the ball. It’s a matter of keeping focused,” said Matt Fike, who also praised the play of Brianna Delozier, Rhyann Case and his daughter, Kendall Fike, off the bench.
Outside of a 2-0 hole early in the game, the Lady Pirates led the rest of the way. After Okemah’s initial basket, Byng responded with a 6-0 run with Tatum Hill scoring the first two buckets and Tims scoring off a runner from 10 feet to make it 6-2 with 5:21 left in the opening quarter.
The Lady Pirates went on to a 13-9 lead after one quarter and held Okemah without a field goal for almost six minutes in the second.
Only four free throws by the Lady Panthers’ Rayna Harjo kept her team on the board during that stretch, but Byng scored nine points when Tatum Hill drove the baseline for a layup. Sheyanna Grove drained a 3-pointer, Tims nailed two free shots and Kendall Fike scored off a Sheyanne Grove assist to make it 22-13 with 2:28 remaining in the half.
The Lady Pirates settled for a 27-21 halftime advantage and saw the lead trimmed to 27-23 to start the third quarter. However, Byng staged a 14-0 spurt to basically put the game out of reach, with nine of those points coming from Alexis Hill. Included in that was an old-fashioned 3-point play from Alexis Hill and four points from Shadley Grove, two free throws and a basket for a 41-23 cushion with 3:29 left in the third.
Kenzie Bean paced the Lady Panthers with 13 points, but it was only on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor and 7-of-12 from the line. Harjo and April Bear followed with 10 points apiece. Harjo also snatched 10 rebounds.