By CRAIG HALL
SPIRO—Winning LeFlore County Tournament champions has become a tradition for the Howe girls.
The Lady Lions added another one to their trophy case Saturday night with a 70-62 win over Pocola in a battle of top 10 teams for Howe’s fourth straight LCT championship, giving the seniors a county championship in every year of varsity play.
Howe, ranked fifth in 2A, improved to 15-3 while Pocola, No. 8 in 3A, dropped to 12-4.
But this one was even sweeter for Howe as it was an epic battle between the top two seeds which came down to the final minutes before the championship was secured. The Lady Lions led most of the game, but could never escape from a determined Pocola squad.
Howe junior Jalei Oglesby was named the tournament most valuable player after putting on another brilliant performance for the Lady Lions. She finished with 38 points, had at least double figures in rebounds, blocked several shots and played a big part on the defensive end in trying to hold down Pocola’s Shakryah Gladness.
Pocola grabbed its last lead with 3:49 left in third quarter on a pair of free throws by Morgan Francis.
Oglesby hit a 3 on the next trip down the court to put the Lady Lions ahead for good. But Pocola kept putting the pressure on Howe, pulling to within three early in the final period on a 3 by freshman Emma Damato and narrowing the deficit to 57-55 on a layup by Damato with 5:23 left.
Oglesby answered with a conventional 3-point play, then scored on a layup, a pair of free throws and a follow shot as Howe built a 66-57 lead.
Howe went on a 13-4 run to put the game away before Gladness scored on a jumper and added a free throw with 52 seconds left for the final points.
Makayla Twyman gave Howe 11 points off the bench. Gladness led Pocola, which was gunning for its first LCT championship since 2007, with 22 points. Morgan Francis scored 14 and Damato added 10.
Howe 70, Pocola
Pocola 13 15 16 18—62
Howe 14 17 19 20—70
Pocola—Summer Perkins 2 4-6 1 9; Morgan Francis 4 3-4 4 14; Emma Damato 5 0-0 4 10; Kila Abdullah 0 1-2 5 1; Dache Benge 0 2-2 3 2; Shakyrah Gladness 6 8-15 3 22; Jazmin Johnson 0 2-3 1 2. TOTALS: 17 20-32 21 62.
Howe—Winter Nakedhead 1 0-0 0 3; Sydnie Womack 0 1-4 3 1; Makayla Twyman 3 3-3 1 11; Jalei Oglesby 15 6-6 1 38; Rachel Beames 0 0-0 2 0; Brittney Wann 1 2-2 2 4; Kennedi Cooper 2 3-4 4 9; Justyn Lynn 0 1-2 5 1; Zoe Nation 1 0-0 4 3. TOTALS: 23 15-21 22 70.
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