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Tigers sweep East Central at home, Rainwater scores 1,000 career points

The storyline coming into the first game Tuesday evening was Kori Rainwater’s pursuit of 1,000 points. She came into the game only needing nine points for the milestone. She already held the school record for career blocks and rebounds as well as the single game rebound record. The Lady Tigers ultimately claimed their victory against the East Central Lady Cardinals with a score of 62-41.


The first quarter began with the Lady Cardinals taking an early 2-0 lead with Tahlequah trying to force the ball into Rainwater. Once the Lady Tigers settled into the flow of the game, they went on a 9-0 run. The Cardinals didn’t get their second basket until the 3:02 mark, sparking a run of their own and ending the quarter 13-10.


At the 5:33 mark in the second quarter, Carsyn Gilbert gathered an errant Cardinal shot and headed to the offensive end finding Rainwater on the baseline for an open jumper for her ninth point of the game and her 1,000 points for her career. Head Coach David Qualls immediately called a timeout so Rainwater could share the moment with her teammates and fans. This seemed to spark the Lady Tigers and they finished out the quarter leading 33-18 outscoring the Lady Cardinals 20-8 in the quarter.


The third quarter scoring was even with both teams scoring 14 points. The game was far from over with the Lady Cardinals closing to 13 with four minutes to play, but the senior leadership from Tahlequah refused to be rattled, closing out the game on a 9-1 run and securing the victory.


Rainwater finished with 23 points, going 8-8 from the charity stripe. Jadyn Buttery finished with 16 points and 10 Rebounds. Madi Mathews had 14 points, seven in the fourth quarter. Jersey Retzloff had five points to go with four steals. Talyn Dick had two points and six rebounds as well as five assists. Lauren Stevens rounded out the score with two points.


The second matchup of the evening saw the 7-3 Tigers face off against an athletic 4-3 Cardinal squad. The Tigers were coming off the Consolation championship at the Mother Road Classic in Verdigris, looking to build off some lessons learned.

Early on, the Tigers had the advantage in a very physical matchup. At the 2:56 mark with the Tigers leading, senior Brycen Smith drove the basket and stepped on a defender’s foot, going down awkwardly, and being forced to leave the game.


This was a pivotal moment in the game with the Tigers being up 7-4 and their primary ball handler going down against a full-court pressure oriented defensive team.


The Tigers refused to fold though with junior Cash McAlvain taking over the role of ball handler. The Tigers took the lead at the end of the quarter, 12-9.


The Tigers cranked up the defensive intensity in the second quarter by holding the Cardinals to ten points while scoring 21 of their own behind 20 from McAlvain.


Another pivotal moment came with the Tigers as they were up 38-26 in the third quarter when McAlvain took a shot to the face and had to leave the game with a bloody nose. This left the Tigers without an experienced ball handler.


The Tigers were able to handle the pressure of the Cardinals until McAlvain was able to return with gauze in his nose, looking like a bloodied boxer returning to the fight. At the end of the quarter, the Tigers were up 45-36, being outscored 12-17 in the third.


The crowd came to life in the fourth quarter, obviously frustrating several of the Cardinal players, leading to a technical foul being called after they had closed the game to four, 49-45. McAlvain calmly sank both shots, going 9-9 in the game from the charity stripe and stopping the Cardinal run.


The game was close to within 3 late in the fourth, but troubles at the free-throw line sunk the Cardinals and allowed the Tigers to win 61-50. The Tigers were 19-22 for the game from the charity stripe while the Cardinals were 5-19.


McAlvain finished a tough game with a career-high 31 points. Donovan Smith had 14, Zeke Guererro with six, Jordan Daugherty had four, Miguel Rodriguez had four and Brycen Smith had two. As a team, the Tigers shot 18-27 for 67 percent, 6-9 from three for 67 percent and 86 percent from the free-throw line. The Cardinals won the turnover battle, forcing 18 and committing 12.


What’s next


The Tigers face off against the Comets of Bishop Kelley at the TMAC on Friday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

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