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Local Sports

January 21, 2013

Konawa Tigers rally past Coalgate Wildcats

Coalgate —      Konawa coach Gordon Garner knew his team was heading into a "trap" game here Friday night.

     But try as he might, the Konawa coach couldn't convince his team, not after it ripped Coalgate last month, 76-31.

     The 3-10 Wildcats were hard to take seriously — that is, until Garner called time out halfway through the third period with his team seven points behind the team it decimated in December.

     That got their attention, and a pressing, trapping defense enabled the more talented Tigers to shake the Wildcats in the fourth quarter for a 47-35 victory in the Coalgate gymnasium.

      "I've been coaching for 26 years," he said. "Good teams go out and take care of business. That first game we were way better than we normally are, and they were not as good as they really are. But try telling that to a group of kids."

     Fast-forward back to Friday night's reality check, with the 10-5 Tigers experiencing that seven-point deficit deep into the game. Coalgate was on top 29-22 and gaining confidence fast.

     To shake his team out of its lethargy, Garner went to a half-court defense with a lot of aggressive trapping. It was as if he'd poured a bucket of ice over his team to wake it up.

     Several turnovers later, Konawa had evened the score at 31-31 by the end of the period on an inside shot by Trent Davis.

     The fourth period was all Konawa.

     "We didn't block out well in the fourth quarter, and we had some turnovers," said Coalgate coach Kerwin Manton. "At times we had three freshmen on the court, and I was proud of how hard they played on defense. That's just a very good team we were playing out there tonight."

     Though his playing time was limited by foul trouble in the second and fourth periods, Davis, a junior, was on the floor enough in the other two periods to score  21 points and get six steals.

     Normally reliable Zach Snow added 10 points, but Garner said it was a struggle for him most of the night and not one of his better games.

     Justin Little and Chance Yellowfish both had five assists in this game. Little finished with 13 points, and the Tigers were not seriously challenged down the stretch.

     "We were going through the motions, most of the time, but we played well enough to win," said Garner. "Now, we'll just move forward. But give them (Coalgate) credit. They really got after us. We were lucky to get out of there with a win."

     The Tigers open competition in the Tupelo Tournament Monday with a game against perennial Class A power New Lima.

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