KONAWA — Konawa’s head basketball coach Gordon Garner went through the spectrum of emotions Friday night.

His Lady Tigers, led by Kelsey Howard, raced out to a huge early lead, then held off several runs by the Byng Lady Pirates before taking the opener 74-58.

In the nightcap, Garner’s Tigers spotted the Pirates a big lead, but they — led by Lee Mullins — came roaring back to win the nightcap 51-45.

“I guess when you’ve coached as long as I have you get used to the ups and downs of high school basketball,” Garner said. “Kelsey (Howard) had an outstanding game, and we needed her to. Defensively, we did a great job against a good basketball team.”

Garner was getting concerned in the nightcap when his Tigers fell behind 9-0.

“We made some mental mistakes defensively in the first half,” he said. “Our game plan was to stop their two outstanding guards (Preston) Petty and (Ryan) Haynes. They like to penetrate and kick it out. That’s how Petty was able to get so open. And he can shoot the basketball. We reiterated our philosophy at halftime, and we did a better job in the second half.


Konawa 74, Byng 58

Byng jumped of the gate to take an early 5-3 lead, but baskets by Hilary Kuestersteffen and Lindsey Keene — and a 3-pointer by Erin Fixico with 2:21 remaining in the opening period — propelled Konawa on a 9-0 run. When Keene connected again with :53 seconds left, the Lady Tigers had built their lead to 15-9.

And the Lady Tigers couldn’t miss during the opening two minutes of the second stanza. Howard nailed two 3-pointers and Jacklyn Nail added another, and Konawa lead 24-9 with 5:45 remaining in the first half.

But the Lady Pirates weren’t ready to throw in the towel and began to chip at the lead. After Desiree Bell and Britney Lee connected, the Konawa advantage had been cut to 26-16. And Lee’s 3-pointer and Whitney Harris’ free throw at the end of the half left Byng down by only eight, 30-22, at intermission.

Rachael Cole’s field goal put Konawa up by 10 in the opening minute of the third quarter, and after Fixico connected from behind the arc, the Lady Tigers led 35-24 with 6:50 left in the third period.

Then Byng made another run. After Harris converted a couple of field goals and Lee added another, the Lady Pirates were down by only five, 35-30.

But it seemed like Garner’s club always had an answer. Cole’s 3-pointer put Konawa up by eight a minute later.

The Lady Pirates had one last run left in them. Cila Dunigan scored twice in the final 1:33 of the third quarter, and Byng trailed by only five, 44-39, heading into the final eight minutes.

But Daphne Grant’s bucket and another 3-pointer by Howard put the Lady Tigers up 49-39 with 7:08 left in the final period. Lee connected to get Byng to within six with 6:08 remaining, but that’s as close as head coach Joe Neely’s squad would get.

Howard led Konawa with a career-high 30 points, while Nail chipped in 13 and Fixico also reached double figures with 10.

Lee led Byng with 16, while Harris was right behind with 15 and Bell added 13.

The Lady Tigers improved to 9-4, while the Lady Pirates dropped to 6-7.


Konawa 57, Byng 45

Byng opened up the nightcap with a bang. Petty’s two 3-pointers, a field goal by Caleb Timmons and a free throw by Haynes put the Pirates up 9-0 with 1:38 left in the first period.

But Garner’s Tigers wasn’t ready to pack it in. During the next four minutes, Konawa — on three field goals by Mullins, and one each by Jordan Marsh and Kyle White — went on a 10-0 run and led 10-9 with 5:13 remaining in the first half.

Another Petty connection from long range gave the Pirates a 12-20 lead with 4:36 left before intermission. But back came Konawa. Buckets by Tyler Henshall, Andrew Barnard and White, and another 3-pointer by Mullins gave the Tigers a 19-12 lead with 2:18 left in the opening half.

Petty’s hot shooting continued as he connected on a couple more from outside the arc to pull coach Tommy Eaton’s Pirates to within four, 22-18, at the break.

When Timmons converted from down low with 4:10 remaining in the third quarter, the Pirates closed within two, 28-26, but two field goals by Marsh and a free throw by Ronnie Osborn upped Konawa’s lead back to five, 31-26. Then, Byng’s Heath Wall converted a pair of free throws and the Pirates were within three, 31-28, as the third period ended.

It really looked like it was going to be a dogfight when Wall added two more from the charity line to pull Byng back again to within one, 31-30, with 6:32 left in regulation.

But treys from Mullins and Barnard upped the Konawa lead to 37-31, before the Pirates’ Clay Plunk connected on a 12-footer with 3:19 left to pull Byng back within two at 37-35.

Next, Osborn and Shane Anderson converted two free throws each, and Mullins sealed the deal with four points in the final frantic minute.

Mullins led Konawa with 16, while Barnard chipped in 12.

Petty led all scorers with 19, including five 3-pointers in the first half to keep Byng in reach, while Timmons also reached double digits with 10.

The Tigers improve to 9-4, and the Pirates drop to 8-5.

Byng travels to Latta Monday, while Konawa is on the road at Vanoss Tuesday.

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