Panthers take 2nd place after two overtime victories; Lady Panthers earn Consolation Championship
By Joshua Allen
ONL Staff Reporter
The Okemah basketball squads both took two wins and one loss during the Byng Basketball Tournament, held January 10 through January 12, improving each of their records to 9-4 on the season.
The wins and losses weren’t in the same order for both teams. The Lady Panthers lost their first bout against 3A Hugo, moving the team to the losing side of the bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
The game against Hugo was another close one for the Okemah girls. They fought hard, but rebounding and defense was a problem as Hugo edged past the Lady Panthers 43-46.
In second round action, the Lady Panthers dominated 3A Purcell, seemingly letting go of some steam from the first loss to defeat their opponent 58-19. The Lady Panthers defense, as well as scoring, for the most part, this game was stellar, as they held Purcell to less than 20 points for the night.
Finally, the Lady Panthers took on 4A Bethel, which they defeated by six points. It was close at times, but it seemed Okemah had charge for much of the game. The final score was 45-39.
Okemah’s Nataiya Wilson was named All-Tournament and received a plaque for her performance in the three games in as many days.
The Panthers, on the other hand, took second place overall in the tournament after winning their first two rounds before losing in the finals to 3A Purcell.
As it goes with the two Okemah basketball teams, sometimes they get involved in close games. The Panthers made this true twice in the Byng Tournament with two games going into overtime.
First, the Panthers took on Hugo — ranked #5 in the state for Class 3A, according to ossaarankings.com. After overtime and extra quarters, the Panthers came out victorious, upsetting the southern Oklahoma squad 45-41.
The Panthers then got tangled in another overtime game after the score was tied at the end of regulation with 6A Moore in their second round bout. Despite the pressure of overtime, the Panthers also defeated the larger school’s team, 57-54.
However, after two pressure-filled wins in overtime in the two games before, in the finals on Saturday, the Panthers slipped up against 3A Purcell. The ball didn’t seem to want to fall, and the team could not obtain a rhythm. The opposite was true for their opponent as they increased a lead.
By the time the game was over, the scoreboard above the heads of the defeated Panthers read 44-66.
The team was recognized as the tournament’s runner-up and was awarded with a plaque.
Panther players CD Harjo and Kaiden Bear were both recognized individually with plaques for their performances in the three games throughout the tourney.
The Okemah basketball teams faced Holdenville on the road Tuesday (updates to be in next issue and online at www.okemahnewsleader.com) and will host Latta Friday, January 18, for homecoming.
Homecoming festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. just prior to the girls’ game, which is set to begin at 6:30 that evening.
Stay tuned to the Okemah News Leader Facebook page and okemahnewsleader.com for more sports updates and news.
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