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Tigers' season comes to an end at Regionals, falling to Memorial 71-53

Nothing prepares someone for the finality of a season coming to an end short of your goals and expectations. For almost all, that is the reality of this time of the season.

From being ranked as high as No. 4 by Maxpreps after a big win against Collinsville, to going home short of the state tournament is the reality for the Tigers. Injuries and sickness have played their part to be sure, but these Tigers have been a pleasure to follow and cheer on.

This season could be split into two parts. The first half of the season was huge wins against Jenks, Collinsville, and Claremore, also competing and finding success against a 6-A state qualifier from last season, Moore Lions.

The second half of the season truly began when senior point guard Brycen Smith went down with a knee injury Jan. 9 against East Central. The Tigers would rally and win that game behind a career-high 31 by Cash McAlvain.

The team would struggle from that point forward going 5-8. Losing a true point guard would be a huge loss for any team, and finding balance and consistency midseason was the chore for Head Coach Duane Jones from that point forward.

Game one saw Tahlequah face off against a former member of the Metro Lakes Conference Coweta Tigers. Tahlequah would have plenty of chances, but after a fast start by Donovan Smith, he would find himself in foul trouble and spend long stretches of the game on the bench.

He would score 15 of the team’s 18 in the third quarter, helping to build a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter. McAlvain would also find himself in foul trouble and unable to get into an offensive rhythm in the game.

Tahlequah would shoot 44 percent from the field while Coweta only shot 35 percent. However, Tahlequah would commit 12 turnovers against four from Coweta. Tahlequah would also connect on six of 12 attempts from the free-throw line, falling to the Tigers from Coweta 51-47.

Donovan Smith would finish with 23, McAlvain scored seven, Zeke Guererro scored six, Noah Barrett five, Cole Robertson four, and Jordan Dougherty with two.

The second matchup would come in the form of a win or go home game against another former Metro Lakes Conference foe and current District 3 member, the Pryor Tigers. For most of the game, Pryor was able to play at their pace.

Ball movement and stingy defense while limiting the second chance points for Tahlequah. Once again, Tahlequah would have an off night from the free-throw line, finishing 8-14 but they would win the turnover battle this time by three.

Tahlequah would shoot 46 percent from the field while holding Pryor to 31 percent. Pryor hung around long enough to keep it close. They had an opportunity to tie twice with under five minutes to play in the fourth, but Tahlequah was able to withstand the run and finish with the win, 46-35.

Donovan Smith had 17 points, McAlvain had 10, Barrett had nine, Robertson had five, Guerrero had three, Dougherty had 1, and Antwine finished with 1.

In the new format, Tahlequah would face Tulsa Memorial who were defeated the night before by Collinsville. Memorial would come out fast from the field, building a 34-18 lead at half.

The second half would see the Tigers finding their offensive rhythm, but they were forced to try and trap on defense to speed up the pace. Memorial would be able to handle the pressure for the most part, resulting in multiple layup opportunities and defeating the Tigers, 71-53.

McAlvain would finish with 25 points, Donovan Smith would get 10, Barrett scored nine, Hodgson three, Rodriguez with two, Robertson 2, and Guerrero 2.



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