By CRAIG HALL
PANAMA—The battle between two of the county’s best girls teams lived up to expectations, but Anthony Milburn stole the show with a career night in the final game of the Panama Festival here Thursday.
As good as Howe’s 40-37 win over Spiro’s girls in the first game of the day was, the finale was better.
Panama built a big lead early, fell behind late before Milburn saved the Razorbacks’ bacon in a 77-70 overtime win.
Also on Thursday, Spiro’s boys overcame Howe, 79-62, and Acorn’s girls bounced back from only their second loss of the season on Tuesday to down Panama, 63-48.
Milburn came through big for Panama. The senior finished with 41 points, hit a three in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime and scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Panama, which led by 15 points in the second quarter, fell behind in the fourth quarter as Acorn’s Trey Ledbetter hit six three-point baskets in the final half, including four in the final period.
Cody Nault hit a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left to give Acorn a 64-61 lead. But on Panama’s ensuing possession, Milburn got open and nailed a long three to tie the game.
The Tigers turned the ball over and Panama had a chance, but Milburn’s three-quarter length shot missed and the two teams were headed to the extra session.
The overtime period belonged to Panama. Buddy Rothermel gave the Razorbacks the lead early and Milburn followed with a pair of free throws, a steal and layup, followed by a conventional three-point play and the hosts led by nine.
Acorn hit a free throw and Milburn answered with a layup to give Panama a 10-point lead. The Tigers added a three, but Colby Skelton hit a layup and the Razorbacks held on for the win.
In addition to Milburn’s big night, Rothermel and Mark Garner each had 11 points for Panama. Ledbetter finished with 31 points for Acorn.
The opening game Thursday featured a matchup of the two top seeds in the upcoming LeFlore County Tournament.
Howe’s girls are the top seeds while Spiro is second. With the score tied late, Tori Kellogg hit a pair of free throws to give Howe a 38-36 lead.
Philicea Mack hit one of two free throws to narrow the margin to one, but Howe’s Mariah Landeros sealed the win by hitting both free throws with two seconds left and give the Lady Lions, now 13-1, the 40-37 win.
Megan Brown led Howe with 13 points while Mack had 18 for Spiro.
Spiro’s boys built a double-digit lead in the second quarter against Howe and maintained that margin until extending the lead late in the 79-64 win over the Lions to improve to 5-2.
Knifeis Carter had 26 points for Spiro. Devon Perry added 22 and Tyh Hawkins had 14. Jared Brown led four Howe players in double figures with 23 points. Stephen Helmandollar had 14, Daniel Barnhart 12 and Nathan Hill added 11.
Acorn’s girls improved to 17-2 overall and bounced back from a close loss to Spiro in the opening game of the Festival with a 63-48 win. Summer Stockton had 10 points for the Lady Backs in the loss.