Lady Panthers win Okemah Invitational Tournament Championship
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
For the first time in the duration of the Okemah Invitational Tournament, the Lady Panthers advanced through every round and kept the trophy at home. This year’s tournament included Wetumka, Bristow, Beggs, Marlow, Seminole, Wewoka and Hilldale, as well as the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Panthers kicked off their first matchup on Thursday, Nov. 12 against Wetumka. The first quarter saw Wetumka gain a 9-3 lead before the Lady Panthers tied it 11-11, heading into the second.
Okemah really put it together during the second quarter, outscoring Wetumka by 20 points, taking a 37-17 lead into halftime. The Lady Panthers continued pouring it on during the third quarter, outscoring Wetumka another 17 points and led 62-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was merely a formality and the Lady Panthers secured their spot in the second round with a final score, 74-33.
On Friday night, Okemah took the court against Beggs. The two teams traded the lead throughout the game and it turned out to be a physical contest with the Lady Panthers being in the bonus both halves.
With Beggs against the ropes at the foul line, the Lady Panthers took advantage of the Demons zone defense and kept forcing it inside with layups, daring Beggs to foul. The gritty performance earned Okemah a 49-42 victory and a berth in the championship round.
The Lady Panthers faced their final opponent of the tournament against Seminole. Sophie Turner led the way on offense for Okemah throughout the game, beginning in the first quarter where she put up 7 of her 22 points for the night. Okemah went on a 10-0 run late in the first quarter, backed up by a solid performance on defense, including a steal from Taylor Haberman.
Okemah held a 15-7 lead going into the second quarter but Seminole began to outpace the Lady Panthers. Okemah only managed to score 8 points during the second quarter, with a timely three pointer from Taylor Haberman in the middle of an 8-0 run by Seminole. Seminole outscored the Lady Panthers by 7 points in the second quarter but still trailed at halftime 23-21.
The third quarter opened up with an 8-0 run by Seminole, giving them a 30-23 lead before Cameron Duncan and Sophie Turner began to interrupt the Chieftain momentum, banking 10 points between them. Despite that effort, the Lady Panthers fell behind Seminole, 33-36 heading into the final quarter.
The energy in the Tom Condict Panther Dome started to intensify when Abby Harelson, who has been a consistent three-point shooter the entire season, hit her first three of the night and pulled the Lady Panthers within two points. A tight, one-point differential lasted until Sophie Turner scored a quick two-pointer on a spot-on inbound pass from Cameron Duncan that extended Okemah’s lead, 47-44.
Okemah managed to steal the ball away from Seminole on the inbound and Sophie Turner was fouled immediately, sending her to the free throw line where she clinched the final score for the Lady Panthers, hitting her two free throws and making the score 49-44.
For their efforts in the tournament, Sophie Turner was named to the All-Tournament team and Cameron Duncan was named MVP of the tournament.
Coach Will Seymour was visibly beaming after the game. “These girls are buying into their roles on the team. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be the scorer because they’re just as important on defense and posting”.