By CRAIG HALL
POTEAU—Roland’s boys and girls entered Tuesday’s games at Poteau with lofty records and rankings.
Both teams almost left town with losses before rallying late to avoid upsets by Poteau teams that were playing shorthanded.
The 11th-ranked Roland girls scored the final six points of the game to escape with a 54-49 win while the second-ranked Rangers also rallied in the final period in a 45-36 win.
Poteau’s girls were ahead by 14 points in the third quarter before Montana Roll had to leave the game with a high-ankle sprain.
Roland’s pressure defense tightened up and the Lady Rangers slowly crept back into the game.
After the Lady Rangers took their first lead of the game with 2:05 left on a steal and layup by Tia Smith, Marissa Enoch hit one of two free throws for a 48-46 lead with 1:02 remaining.
Poteau’s Colleen Peterson hit one free throw that cut the margin to one and after a Roland turnover, Peterson was fouled again and made both shots with 40.4 seconds left to put Poteau back in front, 49-48.
Roland’s Sidney Walters then hit her fourth 3-point basket of the second half from deep in the corner with 25 seconds to give the Lady Rangers a 51-49 advantage.
The Lady Pirates missed and Smith made one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds for a three-point lead. Poteau turned the ball over and had to foul Smith again. This time she was perfect on both shots, giving Roland its final 54-49 margin.
Poteau, which had not won a game prior to last week’s LeFlore County Tournament, had won three of its last four games entering Tuesday’s contest. The Lady Pirates were hot early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead.
After the Lady Pirates led, 21-14, at halftime, Roll opened the third quarter with a layup and free throw to give Poteau a 24-14 lead. Kaitlan Standridge hit a pair of free throws and Roll followed with another layup and the Lady Pirates were up 28-14.
Roll was injured midway through the third quarter with Poteau still holding a big lead. Walters hit two of her five 3’s in the third quarter and Roland started its comeback and trimmed the score to 38-33 at the end of the third quarter.
After Roland cut the lead to one points, the two teams traded points. Peterson hit four free throws and Kaitlan Standridge had a basket as Poteau led 44-40 with 4:36 left.
Walters hit another 3 to cut the lead to one, but Standridge answered again for Poteau. Roland’s Summer Tehee hit a layup and Smith then scored for Roland’s first lead.
Walters paced Roland, now 13-3 with 15 points, all on 3’s, while Tehee had 14 and Smith 11. Poteau had three players in double figures. Standridge had 14 to lead the Lady Pirates while Roll had 12 before leaving and Peterson 10.
Poteau’s boys had to battle the undefeated Rangers without leading scorer, Kendrick Hardaway, out with an illness.
But every time it looked like Roland would run away, the Pirates fought back as senior Blake Williams had one of his best games for Poteau.
Trailing 25-20 in the third quarter, Williams scored seven straight points for Poteau as the Pirates grabbed their first lead of the game. Wilson Klutts added a pair of free throws and Poteau’s lead was 29-25.
Roland answered with a five-point streak to take a 30-29 lead early in the first quarter. Blake Johnson answered with a layup to give Poteau a 31-30 lead with 6:52 left.
Senior Kaleb Parman then came up big for the Rangers, scoring seven straight points and after another basket by Seth Youngblood, Roland led, 39-31.
Poteau could only score five more points the remainder of the game and Roland improved to 17-0.
Parman paced the Rangers with 14 points while Youngblood added 12. Williams was the only Poteau scorer in double figures with 16 points.
Poteau is back in action Thursday when it hosts McAlester.