ALLEN — So much for a changing of the guard.
For the first time in two seasons, the Allen Lady Mustangs appeared in — and the Konawa Lady Tigers fell from — the Coaches Aid girls top 20 this week. And when the two teams met here Tuesday night, Allen appeared primed to join Byng and Latta on the list of teams who had gotten some payback against Konawa after the Lady Tigers’ dominant performance against area rivals last season en route to the Class 2A state tournament.
But Konawa, coming off a disappointing showing at the Bethel CD Warehouse Tournament last weekend, rallied from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to post a 64-46 upset of an Allen team that came into Tuesday’s no-contest 10-1 on the season, riding a five-game winning streak and ranked No. 18 in Class A.
“I thought we could press them,” Konawa coach Gordon Garner said after watching his defense force 28 turnovers and fuel a dominating 40-14 run over the game’s final 17 minutes. “We wanted to wear them down and make (Kelsey) Gee handle the ball. We kept the pressure up, and that slowly wore them down.”
In the boys’ game, Konawa — coming off a surprising tournament championship at Bethel — also took control in the second half and cruised to a 56-44 victory over a Mustang club that played almost half the game without foul-plagued point guard Brandon Postoak.
Konawa 64, Allen 46
The Lady Tigers revived the pressure defense that carried them to their first state tournament appearance in five years last season and finally subdued an Allen squad that had lost only to Stonewall (ranked No. 8 in Class A) before Tuesday’s game.
Gee, arguably the area’s best girls’ player, finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and a blocked shot, but she missed several key free throws and was virtually the entire Allen offense after intermission, scoring 16 of her team’s 23 second-half points and 12 of 14 after Danli Mills gave the Lady Mustangs a 32-24 lead on a 3-pointer with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Konawa held Allen to just two field goals — a layup by Lorissa Skelton off a Gee assist at the 2:52 mark and a Gee layup off a steal with 45 seconds left — the rest of the third quarter, finishing the period on a 14-4 run to take a 38-36 lead on a Rachael Cole layup with six seconds left (after a steal and assist from the Lady Tigers’ only other senior, Lindsey Keene).
Sophomore guard Kelsey Howard, who scored 19 points in the victory, increased the lead to 40-36 on a layup less than a minute into the fourth quarter (again off a Keene assist after she rebounded a Gee miss) to ignite a 9-1 run in a span of less than two minutes. Erin Fixico, who had the best all-around performance of her career in the victory, followed Howard’s bucket with a 3-pointer from the corner, then Howard hit a jumper and Cole followed with a layup 22 seconds later to make it 47-37 with 5:18 to play.
Konawa (8-4 heading into Friday’s home rematch with Byng) still led by nine at 49-40 after a pair of Howard free throws with 4:07 remaining, then Fixico’s steal and layup with 3:36 left ignited an 11-4 run over the next 1:39 that finally put the game away. Fixico — who finished with 11 points (eight in the fourth quarter), five rebounds, three steals and two assists — scored five points during that span, and she also got the assist on a baseline jumper by Daphne Grant that resulted in a 3-point play when Grant was fouled on the shot.
“I thought Erin had her best game of the season,” Garner said of Fixico. “We need her to step up. I thought by now we would be jelling, but we’re still looking for a starting lineup. Erin solidified her spot tonight.
“I thought we took a big step,” Garner added. “I liked our effort tonight. I thought we played harder than we had been playing.”
Howard was only 1-for-7 from 3-point range but hit seven of her other 10 shots and also had three rebounds and three assists, and Cole — who sat out the final 7:24 of the first half after picking up her second foul — scored 10 of her 12 points after intermission and also added four rebounds, three assists and two of Konawa’s 11 steals in the game.
Daphne Grant, Rehea Grant and Hilary Kuestersteffen all fouled out of the game but combined for 18 points (nine by Daphne Grant), six assists (three by Rehea Grant) and nine rebounds (four by Rehea Grant), and freshman guard Jacklyn Nail had a team-high seven rebounds as Konawa outrebounded Allen, 36-33.
Gee — who fouled out late in the fourth quarter — was the only Allen player in double figures, but Skelton had six points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists; Brittnea Nemecek had six points, three rebounds and three steals; and Mills had five rebounds and five points but was only 2-for-9 from the field.
Konawa 56, Allen 44
Konawa (8-4) appeared to be feeling the effects of playing three games in three days in Bethel over the weekend, but Konawa’s Big 3 of Tyler Henshall, Lee Mullins and Andrew Barnard all scored in double figures, and the Tigers took advantage of Postoak’s absence for most of the second, third and fourth quarters to take control of the game.
Henshall, a junior guard who made the all-tournament team at Bethel, scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added six rebounds and steal, and he drew a charge to saddle Postoak with his third foul at the 4:20 mark of the second quarter and the game tied at 15-all. Konawa scored nine of the final 12 points in the half (six by Mullins and a 3-pointer by Henshall) to take a 24-18 halftime lead, then Posotak picked up his fourth personal with 4:51 left in the third quarter and Konawa leading, 27-24, and the Tigers finished the period on a 14-9 run to take a 41-33 lead entering the final quarter.
Postoak played less than half of the final period before fouling out with 4:19 left and Konawa up, 51-36. He scored only two points and took only three shots in the loss, but Garner said his club wasn’t as sharp as it was in Bethel.
“I thought we were flat — there was no intensity,” Garner said. “We had probably our poorest shooting night in the last four games (20-for-46 from the field). We were out of sync.
“Lee had a big tournament at Bethel and was the MVP, and even though he didn’t shoot that well tonight, he’s starting to anticipate better on defense,” Garner said of Mullins, who had four first-quarter steals and finished with five to go with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. “We need for Lee, Tyler and Andrew to all play well to be as good as we can be.”
Barnard was only 3-for-11 from the field, but he scored nine of his 10 points in the second half and added five rebounds, two steals an assist and a blocked shot, starting forward Ronnie Osborn had four points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal, and the Konawa bench turned in another solid effort as the Tigers posted their fourth straight victory. Shane Anderson, a move-in playing his first game, scored seven points (five in the fourth quarter) and had three rebounds, and sophomore Ethan Johnson had five third-quarter points — including a layup after a steal to cap a 6-0 run and give Konawa a 33-24 lead midway through the period.
Corby King scored a game-high 20 points — including a line-drive 3-pointer from beyond halfcourt at the end of the first quarter buzzer to tie the game at 11-all — and added five rebounds for Allen in the loss, and Chris Thyne was also in double figures with 13 points for the Mustangs.
ALLEN — So much for a changing of the guard.