KONAWA — The best things in life were free for the Konawa boys and the sixth-ranked Coalgate girls Tuesday night in a doubleheader that could have been a preview of Class 2A regional playoff match-ups next week.

Konawa’s Lady Tigers outshot and outrebounded Coalgate, but the Lady Wildcats went 22-for-32 from the line — including 17-for-20 in the fourth quarter alone — and ended the best regular season in school history at 21-1 with a tense 46-38 victory.

In the boys’ game, Coalgate had three more field goals, grabbed 16 steals and forced 20 turnovers but shot just two free throws as Konawa won in overtime, 51-46, in a contest between two of the area’s most improved teams from last season. With the victory, Konawa (a .500 team in 2004-2005) improved to 13-8, while Coalgate — which won only eight games a year ago — dropped to 13-9.

GIRLS

Coalgate 46, Konawa 38

On a night when the Lady Wildcats were just 11-of-42 from the field (26 percent), sophomore Jordan Helton — formerly of Ada High School — led a seemingly endless parade of Coalgate shooters at the free throw line.

Helton, who has steadily gotten more playing time off the bench since joining the Lady Wildcats at Christmas, went 10-for-10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter after attempting only one field goal in the first three periods, and she also added four key rebounds and a steal.

“Jordan handled the ball well, she rebounded, and she played good defense,” first-year Coalgate coach Jim Jenson said of Helton. “And she hit some big free throws.

“Konawa didn’t looked like an 11-10 team (the Lady Tigers fell to 11-11 with the loss) tonight,” Jenson added. “I’ve seen them play several times this year, and that’s the best they’ve played.”

Coalgate outscored Konawa 19-12 in the final eight minutes, despite managing just one field goal — a layup by Jamaica Pebworth off a critical steal with 1:10 left to give the Lady Wildcats a 39-36 lead — and finished the game on a 13-2 run after Konawa took a 36-33 lead on a free throw by Hilary Kuestersteffen with 2:37 to play.

Pebworth’s bucket was the only field goal in the final 3:58, as the teams combined to go 14-for-17 from the line (including 11-for-12 by the Lady Wildcats) down the stretch.

Helton went coast-to-coast with the rebound of Kuestersteffen’s missed second free throw attempt, and she was fouled on an attempted layup. After sinking both free throws to make it 36-35, Helton got a steal on Konawa’s next possession and was again fouled at the other end . She made both charity shots with 1:24 left to give Coalgate its first lead since the opening minute of the period.

After Pebworth’s steal and layup increased the lead to three, sophomore Kelsey Howard — Konawa’s leading scorer for the season but in the midst of a nightmare shooting effort — sank two free throws to make it 39-38 with 1:01 to play, but Helton, Lauren Sandman and Teran Mixon combined to go 7-for-8 from the line the rest of the way while Konawa was 0-for-3 from the field and 0-1 from the line.

“We did some good things, but we just couldn’t get untracked on offense,” Konawa coach Gordon Garner said. “But I think we showed we can play with anybody in our regional (Coalgate is the top seed) if we go play.”

Howard — who hit her first two shots of the night but missed her last 10 — scored four quick points as Konawa took an early 6-1 lead, but Coalgate trailed just 8-7 after Mixon hit a layup off an inbounds play at the first-quarter buzzer and took the lead at 11-9 on a 3-pointer by Pebworth with 6:22 left in the half.

The two teams combined to hit just three shots — a 3-pointer by Mixon with 4:12 left and layups by Lauren Fixico and Rachael Cole — over the remainder of the period, however, and the Lady Wildcats carried a 14-13 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Coalgate led by six points twice in the third quarter (the last time after a layup by Mallory Walker with 4:10 left) before Konawa rallied to take the lead 26-25 on Lindsey Keene’s layup with 45 seconds remaining. Mixon’s layup 36 seconds later gave Coalgate its one-point lead heading to the final period.

Fixico, who had seven points and a team-high eight rebounds, gave Konawa a 31-29 lead when she was fouled on a putback of an offensive rebound and converted the 3-point play with 6:58 remaining, and the Lady Tigers led on five separate occasions in a see-saw fourth quarter before Coalgate’s free throws finally stopped Konawa’s upset bid.

Walker finished with a game-high 14 points and 11 rebounds, but the 6-1 sophomore was harassed all night by Cole and Rehea Grant and went just 5-for-12 from the field and 4-of-11 from the line (Coalgate otherwise hit 18-of-20 free throws). Mixon, who hit just 3-of-10 field goals, had 10 points to join Walker and Helton in double figures.

Cole was the only Konawa player in double figures with 10 points (plus five rebounds and three steals), but she spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench with four fouls. Grant had one of her best games of the season, adding seven points, six rebounds and two assists to her sparkling defensive effort.

BOYS

Konawa 51, Coalgate 46 (OT)

Coalgate’s Chiefton Camp drained the last of his four 3-pointers with 1:02 left in regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Wildcats managed just one field goal — a driving layup by Shawn Linton with 1:34 left — in the extra period.

Konawa, meanwhile, took the lead for good on a free throw by Andrew Barnard with 3:09 remaining, and the lead grew to 48-44 on Tyler Henshall’s jumper at the 2:20 mark. Linton knifed through the Tiger defense for his basket to trim the margin to two, then Henshall went 3-for-4 from the line in the final 50 seconds while Coalgate managed just two shots the rest of the way.

Neither team led by more than four points until Henshall’s final free throw, and the teams were tied 31-31 at the end of three quarters after Tyler Ennis hit a turnaround six-footer with 10 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer from Henshall eight seconds earlier.

Coalgate star Daniel Stingley — who had a game-high 19 points but was just 9-of-24 from the field — hit his only 3-pointer of the night to give the Wildcats their last lead at 41-39 with 1:55 left in regulation, but Kyle White tied the score with two free throws 18 seconds later and put Konawa up, 44-41, with 1:17 remaining when he was fouled on a putback of a Barnard miss and made the free throw.

After Camp — who finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting (including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc) — tied it, the teams exchanged misses, and White had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but misfired on a short jumper as time expired.

Shane Anderson, who joined Konawa at Christmas after moving in from Maud, had his best game in a Tiger uniform with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but he had only one point — a free throw in overtime — after his putback of an offensive rebound with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

Henshall (a six-foot junior guard who plays a lot taller) was rock-solid all night, finishing with 13 points (11 after intermission) on 4-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds and two assists, and White came off the bench to score seven points (five in the fourth quarter) and grab three rebounds.

Senior Ronnie Osborn had seven points for the Tigers, and four of his five rebounds were on the offensive end, leading to seven critical Konawa points.

“Ronnie played good defense and boarded well,” Garner said. “We ask Ronnie to do a lot of the little dirty stuff to help us win. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team. He doesn’t care if he scores 25 points — he just wants to win.

“I thought we could get some offensive rebounds against them,” Garner added. “We made some poor decisions in the open floor early, but we settled down after that.”

Despite his tough shooting night, Stingley had a solid overall game with five steals, three rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, but he and Camp (who also had six rebounds, two assists and a steal) were the only Coalgate players with more than four points.

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