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Tigers come away with overtime victory against East Central

In the first matchup of these two teams on the Tigers home court, Cash McAlvain scored a career-high 31 points to lead the team. This contest would require a similar effort for the Tigers to overcome a scrappy Cardinal team and winning 76-71 in overtime.

In the first quarter, East Central settled into their full court man-man defense. Tahlequah was content to work the motion offense and probe for weaknesses. At the other end of the court, Tahlequah was switching up their defensive looks.

They would play a half-court pressure man-man trapping when they could, and sometimes go to a zone to mix it up and keep the Cardinal offense from getting into a rhythm. The Tigers were able to take the lead by the slimmest of margins 11-10 at the end of the first quarter. However, a disturbing trend for the Tigers developed, eight of the Cardinals’ 10 points in the quarter came off offense rebounds.

In the second quarter, the action would intensify as the Cardinals increased their defensive intensity leading to a 14-4 run for the Cardinals. Nine Tiger miscues in the quarter ignited the Cardinal run. The Tigers were able to battle back though and only go into the half down by three, 29-32.

The Tigers were able to even the score early in the third quarter when Jordan Dougherty took the ball to the rim and finished a tough and 1. On the next Cardinal possession, Dougherty tipped an errant pass to Zeke Guerrero for a breakaway layup.

This was the first Tiger lead since the beginning of the second half, battling back from as many as nine down. In the next four minutes of gametime, there would be three more lead changes until another Cardinal surge took the lead to seven.

The Tigers would once again answer and pull within three on a Cole Robertson finish on an assist from Guerrero, ending the third quarter with the Tigers down 53-50.

The fourth quarter would be a contentious quarter with both fan bases getting loud in support of their respective teams. The referees were allowing both teams to play aggressively early on. This led to them trying to get control of the game later by calling fouls they weren’t calling early. The final result was 63 total free throws for both teams, 46 of them coming in the second half.

Scoring in the quarter started with a tough drive and finish by Donovan Smith. The Cardinals quickly answered from the free -throw line and took a six-point lead, 58-52.

As they had all game, the Tigers battled back and forced a timeout after a McAlvain steal and finished at the rim to draw within two, 59-61 with 2:33 to play.

Coming out of the timeout, the Cardinals were able to answer with a three to extend their lead back to five. The Tigers brought it back to three with a Robertson finish off an inbound play.

The Cardinals were only able to hit 1 of two free throws for a four- point lead. Mcalvain was able to hit a huge three off a J.J. Antwine assist to cut the lead to 1, 64-65.

East Central was able to secure their 20th offensive rebound of the game and hit the putback to go back to a three-point lead. However, they missed the free-throw attempt and a chance to extend their lead to two possessions.

On Tahlequah’s next possession, McAlvain missed a three and the chance to tie. Antwine was able to chase down the offensive rebound, giving McAlvain another opportunity to tie which he did not miss, tying the game at 67.

East Central chose to wind down the clock and go for the last shot. Tahlequah did a good job and forced a tough shot between two defenders, which clanged harmlessly off the rim and forcing overtime.

On the Tigers first possession in overtime, McAlvain was able to hit a tough runner coming down the right side of the lane for twelfth lead change of the game.

The Cardinals were once again able to get an offensive rebound and putback to tie the game at 69. Antwine was fouled on the Tiger inbound and was able to hit one of two free throws for the thirteenth lead change of the game.

Dougherty was able to secure a huge defensive rebound on a Cardinal missed three. Tahlequah was content to work some of the clock and looked for a good shot. The Tigers worked the ball around until Smith got a good look from his post position.

He couldn’t sink the shot, but Antwine was there for his sixth offensive rebound, tipping the ball out to McAlvain who was fouled on his shot attempt. After calmly knocking down both foul shots, the Tigers found themselves up by three.

The Cardinals were able to answer from their free-throw line, once again cutting the lead to one.

On the next possession, the Tigers had multiple looks at the basket and were finally fouled on a putback attempt from Robertson. Robertson missed both shots but on the second there was a lane violation by the Cardinal rebounder, and he was able to hit the third, extending the Tiger lead to three.

The Cardinals were able to get a good look at three, but the ball went halfway in and then popped out. Robertson was able to bring down the rebound for the Tigers. The Cardinals were forced to foul, sending Antwine to the line.

He hit 1 of two, extending the Tiger lead to three. East Central once again got a good look from three but the ball went off the back of the rim. On the long rebound, McAlvain tapped the ball down the court for a Tiger layup, securing the win 76-71 in overtime.

The Tigers shot 25-51 from the field for 49 percent, they were 19-30 from the free-throw line for 63 percent. East Central shot 22-62 from the field for 35 percent, they were 21-33 from the free-throw line for 64 percent.

The Tigers had 13 offensive rebounds and the Cardinals got 22. The Tigers also won the turnover battle by committing 17 and forcing 19 by the Cardinals.

McAlvain led the Tigers with 25 points, Smith had 20, Robertson had career highs in points with 17 as well as a career high in rebounds with 14. Antwine had six points and seven rebounds as well as four assists, and Dougherty had six points and three assists.

What’s next

The Tigers travel to Bishop Kelley, who beat the Tigers earlier in the year, 46-50. Tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9.


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