Konawa’s boys basketball team hasn’t been ranked during Gordon Garner’s six-plus seasons as coach at his alma mater, but that could change after the Tigers’ impressive run through a talented boys bracket at last week’s Southeastern Oklahoma Shootout.
Garner’s squad improved to 5-0 and wrapped a huge week that included wins over ranked teams from Latta (No. 16 in Class 2A) at home on Tuesday and Coalgate (No. 19 in 3A) in Friday’s semifinals with a 31-28 victory over tournament host Savanna in Saturday’s championship game.
Konawa (No. 12 in 2A) also won the girls championship game, defeating old rival Byng, 48-45, in overtime behind 32 points from senior point guard Nikki Nail.
In the boys third-place contest, Coalgate bounced back from its 30-point semifinal loss to Konawa to manhandle Weleetka, 56-39. Eufaula beat Byng for the boys consolation title in Saturday’s other game.
Konawa 48, Byng 45 (OT)
Nail scored 30-plus points for the second time in five games and won a duel with Byng senior Dayton Hendricks in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Hendricks scored a team-high 20 points, including 13 of Byng’s 16 in the fourth quarter, and her layup with less than 40 seconds left in regulation gave the Lady Pirates a short-lived 41-40 lead.
Nail, who scored 12 of Konawa’s 14 fourth-quarter points, hit one of two free throws with 25 seconds left to send the game to overtime, and she and Courtney Capps each scored three of the Lady Tigers’ seven points in an extra period in which they never trailed. Nail got a big steal and layup in overtime, and Chelsea Gillum — who failed to score in double figures for the first time this season — added another steal in the final seconds to seal the win.
“We had chances to put the game away in regulation and couldn’t hit our free throws,” said Garner, whose club was just 14-for-28 from the line overall and 3-for-9 in overtime. “It was typical Konawa-Byng. I thought both teams gave great effort.
“Byng played great defense,” he added. “Hendricks put them on her back in the fourth quarter, and Nikki did the same thing. It was a tough game to lose and a great game to win.”
Konawa, which led 17-14 at intermission and 27-25 after three quarters, was 17-for-41 from the field in the see-saw contest. Neither team led by more than six points, and the Lady Pirates — who played without injured center Presli Manuel — had a chance to win the game in regulation but turned the ball over with two seconds left.
“I thought we played pretty good, considering our leading scorer (Manuel, who averaged 14 points per game last season and hurt her knee in Friday’s win over Eufaula) was sitting on the bench,” Byng coach Matt Fike said after seeing his club drop to 4-1. “Our other girls stepped up and gave us a chance to win the tournament. Dayton Hendricks and Raetchel Gray (who scored nine points) both did a good job.
“Our defensive game plan was to stop Chelsea Gillum, and we did that,” he added. “Nikki Nail won the game for them. She’s just a great athlete.”
Other than Nail and Capps (who finished with seven points), only Gillum (six points) and Allison Yellowfish (three) scored for Konawa.
In addition to the 29 points scored by Hendricks and Gray, Byng got six points from Mahgen Boissenin and five from Stormy Sayre in the loss.
Konawa 31, Savanna 28
The Tigers continued their string of outstanding defensive efforts, holding Savanna without a field goal for an 11-minute stretch of the second half to offset a scoreless third quarter of their own.
“We got good looks, but the shots just didn’t fall,” Garner said. “Savanna is a good team — they’re quick and they’re big. I think it was a situation where we had to play so hard in the first two rounds (in victories over Valliant and Coalgate) that we just have the same pizzazz (Saturday).”
Konawa led 24-17 at intermission but didn’t score for more than 12 minutes to start the second half. By the time Alex Yellowfish ended the drought with a 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining, Savanna had tied the score at 24-all.
With the Tigers clinging to a 27-26 lead, Devin Terry missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Konawa’s only other senior, center Cody Stinnett, grabbed the rebound and rammed home the putback to extend the lead to 29-26.
“Cody Stinnett was our most valuable player,” Garner said. “He made three huge plays in the fourth quarter.”
In addition to scoring six points, Stinnett also drew a charge late in the game and fouled Savanna center Michael Kafkie on a point-blank shot. Kafkie missed both free throws.
Yellowfish and backcourt mate Chad Cloud scored nine points apiece to lead Konawa, while Terry — who drained a pair of game-clinching free throws in the final seconds to offset a basket by Savanna’s Landon Walker at the buzzer — didn’t hit a 3-pointer for the first time this season and finished with a season-low seven points in the victory.
Konawa connected on just 11-of-42 shots overall, and Yellowfish hit the Tigers only three 3-pointers (in 16 attempts). Terry finished 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Garner said his team’s victory was especially satisfying considering the depth of the tournament’s boys bracket.
“It was a great boys tournament — there were no bad teams in it,” he noted. “I can’t remember being in a tougher boys tournament since I’ve been at Konawa. To come out on top was really special for our guys.”
Konawa will host Tushka Monday and visit Holdenville (whose boys squad entered the week ranked No. 8 in Class 2A but went 1-2 at the tournament) on Friday. Byng returns to action Tuesday, hosting Tecumseh
Coalgate 56, Weleetka 39
Center Bradley Stowe scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to complete a solid double-double as Coalgate (No. 19 in Class 3A) cruised to the easy win.
The Wildcats (5-1) built a 23-11 halftime lead and were never threatened in the second half. Brandon Jim had eight points off the bench and Jaymin Riley added seven points in the win.
“I’m glad we bounced back after that (51-21) loss and played decent,” Coalgate coach Kerwin Manion said. “I’m proud of the kids for coming back and getting on track, hopefully.”
Coalgate will host Antlers Tuesday before traveling to Atoka for a rivalry battle Friday.