- Ada, Oklahoma

Local Sports

March 3, 2014

No.17 Arkoma kicks Allen out of playoffs

DURANT —    High-scoring Arkoma buried the Allen girls early, and the Lady Mustangs never could quite get out of the big hole in a 65-53 loss Friday afternoon at the Class A Area Tournament inside Southeastern’s Bloomer Sullivan Arena.

   The local Lady Mustangs saw their season come to an end at 16-10, while No. 17 Arkoma improved to 24-4 heading into a Saturday night meeting with second-ranked Kiowa with a berth to the Class A State Tournament at stake.

   After a back-and-forth first six minutes of the game resulted in a 10-10 tie, Arkoma went on a 12-0 surge. By the time Kelsi Johnson scored on a strong move to the basket to start the second quarter, Arkoma had forged a 22-10 lead.

   “We missed a few things on defense. We didn’t close out well and got behind the post girl a few times, and they got some easy buckets on us,” Allen head coach Jeremy Strong said of the bad stretch. “We got down, and we kind of panicked a little bit.”

   Abby Gragg hit two free throws and on the next trip down the court, tossed up a runner in the lane that banked in to push the Arkoma lead to 33-16 late in the second quarter. Johnson made a steal as time was running out and chunked it toward the basket for a buzzer-beating shot that gave Arkoma a 35-19 lead at the break.

   “They hit some shots early and put us in a bind,” Strong said.

   Post player Julia Anderson scored the first basket of the third quarter to put Allen in an 18-point hole before the Pontotoc County Lady Mustangs tried to rally.

   An impressive 16-5 surge got Allen within 43-35 at the 3:42 mark of the third period. Five different players scored during the Allen run.    Charlea Leonard scored five points, and Sandra Howshar (Rowsey) added four. Hannah Heck hit a short jumper during the spurt and seconds later, grabbed a rebound, fell to her knees and was still able to pass the ball to a wide-open Kennedy Prentice for a layup. Miranda Raney’s 3-point shot capped the run.

   “I just wish we could have had one more good quarter,” Strong said. “Even with all that, I’m proud of my girls. They played hard. They gathered themselves up and made a good run at it.”

   Howshar, Allen’s lone senior, single-handedly tried to keep Allen within striking distance in the fourth quarter by scoring her team’s first 10 points of the period. Her 3-pointer at the 4:38 point got Allen within 52-44, and a 16-footer seconds later kept the Lady Mustangs within eight. Her two free throws with 3:50 left capped the personal 10-0 surge and made it 56-48, but Allen would get no closer.

   Howshar finished with 20 points and five rebounds to lead the Lady Mustangs.

   “Sandra finished the season well. That was a good game,” Strong said.

   Leonard also had a strong outing for Allen, adding 17 points and eight rebounds to the mix. Allison Sells hit a pair of 3-pointers.

   Johnson was the leader for Arkoma for the second day in a row. After scoring 24 points during a 51-46 win over Roff on Thursday, she fired in 21 points, five rebounds and three steals in the victory over Allen. Johnson sank 9-of-12 free throws to go with her 11-of-11 performance against the Lady Tigers.

   Gragg ended with 15 points and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line for Arkoma, while Anderson also scored 15 to go with eight boards.

   Arkoma finished 19-of-26 from the charity stripe, compared to an 8-of-16 effort for Allen.

   “Arkoma’s a really good team. They played well today,” Strong said. “They shot free throws well. That’s what you have to do to win — make your free throws.”

   The Lady Mustangs will look to reload and make another long playoff run next year after losing just Howshar to graduation.

   “It was a solid season. We had some ups and downs, but I’m really proud of the girls,” Strong said.

   “They’re still young. The future is bright. Everybody returns but one.” he continued. “I’m already ready to get back in there and start after it and get going again.”

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