By CRAIG HALL
SPIRO—The LeFlore County Tournament finals are set for the girls after Talihina edged Spiro and Howe downed Bokoshe in Thursday’s semifinals.
Chelsea Baggs came up big for Talihina in its 51-49 win over the host Lady Bulldogs while Howe grabbed a big lead and cruised to a 71-37 win over Bokoshe.
In earlier games, Wister’s girls downed Pocola in overtime of the girls’ consolation finals and LeFlore won the boys’ consolation championship with a 53-35 decision over Panama.
On Friday, Heavener takes on Poteau in the girls’ fifth-place game at 4 p.m. and Cameron and Pocola meet for the third time in three weeks in the boys’ fifth-place game at 5:30 p.m.
The boys’ semifinals start at 7 p.m. with fourth-seeded Wister battling top-seeded Spiro and third-seeded Heavener faces second-seeded Poteau at 8:30 p.m.
While the first semifinal game Friday between Howe and Bokoshe did not have any drama, that certainly was not the case in the battle between third-seeded Talihina and second-seeded Spiro.
With only a one-point lead and 36 seconds left, Spiro fouled Talihina’s Cortney Williams. Williams missed the first free throw but hit the second one to extend the lead to 49-47, setting the stage for the biggest play of the night.
Spiro’s Kanisha Hutchinson, who had already hit a pair of three-point shots during the fourth quarter, missed on a long shot, got her rebound and tried another shot to tie the game, but Talihina’s Tara Hawkins blocked the shot, giving the ball back to the Lady Tigers.
Baggs was fouled with 14 seconds left and nailed both shots for a 51-47 lead. Spiro’s Meocha McKesson hit a basket right before the buzzer sounded for the final 51-49 score.
Along with Hawkins’ big block, Baggs was the difference in the final quarter. The senior, who played for Howe as a sophomore, scored nine points of her game-high 22 points in the final quarter, and was 6-6 on free throws to help the Lady Tigers maintain their lead.
After the two teams battled to a 26-26 tie at halftime, Talihina surged ahead in the third quarter by outscoring Spiro, 12-7. Spiro took its final lead on a free throw by Philicea Mack with 4:21 in the third before Landy James hit a three to give Talihina the lead for good.
Talihina closed the quarter and started the final period on a 10-2 run as Baggs hit a three to open the final quarter. The Lady Tigers built their lead to 46-38 after a free throw by Hawkins before Spiro rallied.
Hutchinson hit a three to cut the lead to five. After a pair of free throws by Baggs, McKesson hit another three for Spiro and the lead was only four points. Talihina missed a pair of free throws and Hutchinson nailed another three to cut the lead to one, setting the stage for the finish.
While Talihina had a height disadvantage down low, the Lady Tigers held Spiro’s standout center Mack to only seven points and proved to be just as athletic as the Lady Bulldogs.
Baggs was the only scorer in double figures for Talihina. Hutchinson led Spiro with 19 points while McKesson added 12.
Howe showed early that it was too good for Bokoshe. The Lady Lions were hot early, jumping out to a 9-0 lead before stretching the margin to 24-7 at the end of the first quarter.
While Howe shot the lights out, Bokoshe struggled to get a good look and eventually trailed 40-16 at halftime.
Megan Brown led Howe with 19 points while Brooke Vandever had 13 and Abigail McGarrah finished with 12. Brianna Brassfield’s 11 points were tops for Bokoshe and Miranda McFarland added 10.
Howe will be in its seventh straight final and will be looking for its first LCT championship since winning in 2009. Talihina will be appearing in the finals for the first time since 2000 and looking for its first championship since 1999.
Wister’s girls and LeFlore’s boys used big finishes to take the consolation championships.
Wister outscored Pocola, 14-5, in the overtime session for a 67-58 win over the Lady Indians. Clara Brown had 23 points for Wister and Kayla Newton added 13. Shayla Thompson led Pocola with 20 points and Taylor Farley added 10.
LeFlore only led by three points going to the fourth quarter and outscored the Razorbacks 19-4 in the final period for the 53-35 win.
Dakota Watson and Caleb Smith each had 18 points for LeFlore. Anthony Milburn led Panama with 19.