Okemah High School students and fans had good reason to celebrate Friday after both Panther teams dominated the McLoud Redskins at home, each outscoring their opponents by 20 or more points.
Coming off a loss to Chandler Tuesday of last week, the Lady Panthers were “hungry for a win,” Head Coach Will Seymour said after the game.
“I’m proud of the girls for feeding off that loss and coming out here tonight and playing hard,” he said. “That was a tough one (Tuesday against Chandler), especially after fighting back from behind and almost winning.”
The “tough loss” Seymour refers to was decided in overtime after the Lady Panthers had rallied from behind to make up a double-digit deficit and send the game into an extra quarter. Chandler took the edge in overtime and managed to defeat Okemah.
Friday’s game against McLoud went slightly different. Though points decided the game in the end, it was not the Lady Panthers offense that stood out.
For the most part, the scoring started slowly as the team engaged in a primarily defensive game, putting up enough offense to lead the way in scoring at the end of each quarter.
It was that heavy reliance on defensive focus that gave the edge to the Lady Panthers throughout.
After allowing McLoud eight points in the first quarter, they held the visiting opponent to only three points in the second quarter, two in the third and seven in the fourth.
By halftime, the Lady Panthers had McLoud scurrying, down by five. The score was 16-11 when the teams hit the court to start the second half.
The third and fourth quarters are where Okemah, to the delight of hometown fans and the coaching staff, began to run off and leave the visiting McLoud team.
Holding them to only two total team points in the third, the Lady Panthers knocked down several field goals, scoring nine to put the score at 25-13 to start the final period.
This would make for the second best offensive quarter for McLoud — managing enough offense to tack on seven points, which was more than the team had scored in the second and third quarters combined.
It was too little too late. The Lady Panther defense had stayed consistently aggressive through three quarters, giving way to an offensive onslaught that saw the home team put up 16 points in the fourth.
When the last buzzer sounded, Okemah walked off the floor beneath a score board reading 41-20 in their favor.
Seymour said he was proud of the team’s performance with the caveat that they need to continue working on shooting and ball distribution.
“Tonight was about defense … the girls were aggressive and need to keep that hunger for winning every game,” he said.
As for individual stats, the coach said he prefers discussing his team as a whole, not singling out any individual player for performances or statistics, whether good or bad. He asked that the reporting be done in the same way.
The Lady Panthers have prepped this week for the Okemah Tournament, which started today and goes through Saturday.
Visit www.okemahnewsleader.com or the News Leader’s Facebook page for tournament coverage and updates each day.