On a night when the shooting stats for his boys and girls squads were anemic, Konawa coach Gordon Garner prescribed a healthy dose of defense to cure his teams’ ills and came away with a rare sweep of old rival Latta Tuesday.
The Konawa girls (ranked No. 12 in Class 2A) shot just 33 percent (16-for-48) from the field and 50 percent (11-for-22) from the line but forced 23 turnovers and surrendered only 18 points over the final three periods en route to a 44-33 victory. In the nightcap, the Tigers managed just 15 field goals in 51 tries but had 24 takeaways and held the visting Panthers to 28 total shots en route to a tense 43-39 win.
With Tuesday’s victories, both Konawa squads improved to 2-0 heading into opening-round games Thursday at the rugged Southeastern Oklahoma Shootout in McAlester. The Lady Tigers will take on Weleetka at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, and the Tigers will face Valliant at 3 p.m. in their openers at the tournament, which also includes area rivals Coalgate and Byng.
The Latta girls, who have played the area’s toughest schedule so far this season, fell to 2-4 while the Panthers (No. 16 in 2A) had a four-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 4-2. Both Latta squads get a week off before traveling to Tishomingo Tuesday.
Konawa 43, Latta 39
Latta led 38-34 after a pair of free throws by Reed Johnson with 5:03 to play, but the Panthers turned the ball over on their next six possessions. And after hitting three of four shots to start the fourth quarter, Latta didn’t ATTEMPT a field goal for more than six minutes.
“I thought our defense was good all night,” Garner said. “We hadn’t beaten (the) Latta (boys) in several years, and I think this is an awfully good Latta team.”
Senior guard Devin Terry scored seven of the game’s final 11 points to key Konawa’s pivotal 10-1 run, and he pulled the Tigers to within a point with a clutch 3-pointer from the right corner with 3:55 to play.
Terry’s steal and layup less than a minute later gave Konawa the lead for good, and he combined with sophomores Alex Yellowfish and Josh Kirkwood to hit four of six free throws over the final 28 seconds to seal the win.
Terry and Yellowfish scored 19 points apiece, and, although they were a combined 13-for-38, they took 10 more shots than the entire Latta team and keyed a defense that held Johnson and Tinkler—the Panthers’ two leading scorers—to 19 shots and eight field goals.
“Our plan was to double down on Tinkler and try to make his life miserable,” Garner explained. “Latta is capable of hitting 3s, but we knew they would beat us if we let them go inside. We wanted to make their young guys beat us.”
A Yellowfish free throw with 28.5 seconds remaining put Konawa up 40-38, then Terry—who grabbed his game-high eighth rebound of the night when Tinkler missed the second of two free throws less than a second later—hit a pair of free throws to make it 42-39 with just 17.7 seconds remaining.
Johnson, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half but missed his final four shots, then rushed up the floor with the inbounds pass and missed badly on an off-balance 3-point attempt from the right wing (Latta’s first shot since the 6:27 mark). Kirkwood grabbed the rebound and was fouled, and he hit the first of two free throws with 7.3 seconds left to finally put the Panthers away.
Despite going 7-for-25 from the field before the break, Konawa led for most of the first half and carried a 21-15 lead into the locker room when Kirkwood capped a three-shot possession with a putback at the second-quarter buzzer.
But Johnson scored seven points in a 9-0 run to start the second half, and he gave the Panthers their first lead in almost 18 minutes when he drained a 3-pointer off an assist from sophomore Jake Collins with 4:55 left in the third quarter.
Johnson then answered a pair of Yellowfish free throws with a pull-up jumper in the lane to again give the Panthers a three-point lead.
After back-to-back Yellowfish layups (the second off a steal and assist by Chad Cloud) put Konawa in front at the 3:37 mark, a pair of Tinkler layups—the second off a beautiful assist from sophomore guard Trent Storts with 31 seconds left—gave Latta a 30-27 lead before Terry drained a 3-pointer in transition 11 seconds later to tie the score heading to the final period.
A layup by senior Heston Bush in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter gave the Panthers the lead again, then Yellowfish knifed through the Latta defense and hit a layup—while falling down—to tie the score less than 30 seconds later.
Storts found senior Chad Bigham with a bullet pass through traffic for a layup on Latta’s next possession and Bush got a putback of an offensive rebound less than a minute later to give Latta a 36-32 lead. But Terry hit an acrobatic, one-handed floater from the right baseline to make it a two-point game again at the 6:10 mark, and the Panthers didn’t attempt another field goal between Bush’s basket and Johnson’s 3-point attempt in the waning seconds.
Latta finished a solid 14-for-28 from the field, with Tinkler (who scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting), Bigham (4-for-6) and Bush (2-for-3) combining to hit 11 of their 15 shots. The Panthers also outrebounded the Tigers, 31-27, but Konawa turned the ball over just 10 times while forcing 12 turnovers in each half.
Konawa 44, Latta 33
Latta led 15-7 after a putback by sophomore Shelby Parnacher with 2:07 left in the opening quarter before Konawa—despite an off night from leading scorer Nikki Nail—scored 37 of the game’s final 55 points.
The Lady Tigers took the lead at 19-18 when Nail banked in a turnaround jumper off an assist from sophomore Allison Yellowfish with 4:57 left in the half, and, although they didn’t score in the final 3:15 before intermission, they carried a 23-22 lead to the locker room.
A steal and layup by junior guard Kaitlin Hisaw gave Latta its final lead of the night (26-25) with 6:21 left in the third quarter, then Konawa amped up the defensive pressure at both ends of the floor. The Lady Panthers missed their final 14 shots in the period and turned the ball over three times, and the Lady Tigers parlayed their defensive success into a decisive 12-1 run to close out the quarter.
“We saved our zone for the second half so they couldn’t make adjustments at halftime,” Garner said after seeing his defense limit Latta to four field goals in 25 attempts after the break. “We haven’t played a lot of zone over the years, so it was probably a shock.”
Senior center Chelsea Gillum, in the midst of a huge night, started the spurt with a jumper off an assist from Courtney Capps at the 6:01 mark, a pair of free throws by Ciara Kuestersteffen 44 seconds later made it 30-27, and Gillum’s layup off a nice feed from Nail extended the lead to 32-27 with 3:44 left in the quarter.
Melanie Gladden got a steal in the backcourt and fed Gillum for another layup at the 3:03 mark, and Gladden put an exclamation point on the run just over two minutes later when she grabbed a loose ball and, while falling out of bounds, fed a trailing Capps for a layup in transition to make it 37-27.
Chelsea Ellenberg’s layup in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter pulled Latta to within eight, but the Lady Panthers couldn’t get closer.
Gillum, coming off a 20-point effort in Konawa’s season-opening victory over Meeker, posted game highs in points (15) and rebounds (13) and added four steals and an assist. Nail—who poured in 34 points against Meeker but had been battling flu-like symptoms before Tuesday’s game—scored all 11 of her points in the first half and finished 3-for-14 after missing her final six shots.
“It’s a good win any time you can beat a quality team like Latta,” Garner said. “We didn’t shoot very well, but we did some good things.
“I’m really proud of the way we rebounded (21 of Konawa’s 43 rebounds were on the offensive end),” he added. “And that’s big for us to have other players step up and score with Nikki under the weather.”
Gladden had four steals, three rebounds and two assists to go with four points, Emily Mocabee hit her only two shots—including her team’s only 3-pointer of the game late in the fourth quarter—and finished with five points, and Capps had three points, five rebounds and two assists.
Kortney West and Hisaw scored eight points apiece to lead the Lady Panthers, who also got seven points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots from center Chelsea Ellenberg.
Konawa 44, Latta 33
LATTA 15 7 5 6 — 33
KONAWA 12 11 14 7 — 44
LATTA: Kortney West 3-14, 0-0, 8; Kaitlin Hisaw 3-7, 2-2, 8; Chelsea Ellenberg 3-9, 1-3, 7; Shelby Parnacher 3-7, 0-0, 6; Teagan Tully 1-6, 0-0, 2; Siera Green 1-1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 14-48, 3-5, 33.
KONAWA: Chelsea Gillum 6-10, 3-6, 15; Nikki Nail 3-14, 5-8, 11; Emily Mocabee 2-2, 0-0, 5; Melanie Gladden 2-4, 0-0, 4; Allison yellowfish 2-8, 0-1, 4; Courtney Capps 1-9, 1-4, 3; Ciara Kuestersteffen 0-0, 2-3, 2. Totals: 16-48, 11-22, 44.
Turnovers: Latta 23, Konawa 14
Steals: Latta 8 (Hisaw 4, West 3), Konawa 13, Gillum 4, Gladden 4)
Rebounds: Latta 32 (Ellenberg 10, Green 5), Konawa 43 (Gillum 13, Nail 8, Capps 5)
3-point goals: Latta 2-9 (West 2-7), Konawa 1-4 (Mocabee 1-1)
Fouled Out: None
Konawa 44, Latta 39
LATTA 10 5 15 9 — 39
KONAWA 13 8 9 13 — 43
LATTA: Reed Johnson 3-11, 6-6, 13; Dylan Tinkler 5-6, 1-2, 11; Chad Bigham 4-6, 0-0, 8; Heston Bush 2-3, 2-2, 6; Brogan Cantrell 1-2, 0-0, 1. Totals: 14-28, 10-14, 39.
KONAWA: Alex Yellowfish 6-18, 5-8, 19; Devin Terry 7-20, 2-2, 19; Chad Cloud 1-7, 1-2, 3; Josh Kirkwood 1-6. 0-0, 2. Totals: 15-51, 8-12, 43.
Turnovers: Latta 24, Konawa 10
Steals: Latta 3, Konawa 12 (Terry 4, Cloud 3)
Rebounds: Latta 31 (Johnson 7, Tinkler 6), Konawa 27 (Terry 8)
3-point goals: Latta 1-4 (Johnson 1-4), Konawa 5-15 (Terry 3-10, Yellowfish 2-4)
Fouled Out: None