Sallisaw splits homecoming games with Muldrow
The Sallisaw High School basketball teams split their Friday night homecoming games with the visiting and county rival Muldrow squads at Paul Post Field House.
The Black Diamonds opened the night in dramatic fashion with a 5857 thrilling win over the Bulldogs, but the Lady Bulldogs earned a split on the night as they picked up their third win this season over the Lady Diamonds as Muldrow prevailed 34-12.
SALLISAW 58, MULDROW 57
After Muldrow’s Teaguen Collins hit a pair of three throws with 15 seconds left in the game to give the Bulldogs (9-9 overall, 4-3 in NOAA Conference play) a 57-56 lead, the Black Diamonds (810, 2-5) came down and got the gamewinning shot by Wes Rodriguez with five seconds remaining to play to give Sallisaw a 58-57 lead.
The ’Dogs had one last desperation shot from just inside the midcourt line, but the shot drew iron and clanked off as the buzzer sounded. Rodriguez said the game-winning play drawn up by coach Chadd Gehrke was not designed for him to take the shot, but he felt he had to improvise — and it worked out for the Black Diamonds. “I improvised,” Rodriguez said. “We were supposed to hit someone else. I got open, and I took my chance. I missed two free throws before that, so I had to make up for that. This (win) means a lot. We have a great team, with just one senior (Max Stump, who was the homecoming king). We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and paying good on defense, and we’ll do good.” “(The win) was awesome because I haven’t won a homecoming game since I’ve been here,” Gehrke said. “That (homecoming) is when there’s the most people in the gym. This gym was loud. This was pretty incredible for the town. Against Stilwell and against Roland, we played pretty good for the most part. We were up eight at Stilwell in the third quarter. At Roland, we were within six points for most of that game. We just haven’t put everything together yet. We’re right there, so I think we’re on the upward trend.”
The Bulldogs had as much as a 15-point lead in the second quarter at 27-12 after Deshawn Wilson’s 3-point basket with 3:10 left in the first half. However, the Black Diamonds ended the first half with a 13-3 run, capped by Brodi Nickell’s free throw with four seconds remaining before halftime, to cut Muldrow’s lead to 30-25 at halftime.
From there, Sallisaw slowly regained the lead for the first time at 31-30 with 5:20 left in the third quarter on a basket by Cooper Jackson. For the rest of the game, there were five lead changes and four ties, with Rodriguez’s game-winner providing the fifth lead change over the final 13:20 of game time.
Muldrow boys coach Terry Collins believed that the defensive pressure applied by the Black Diamonds was the key factor as to why the ’Dogs could not hold on for the road win and complete an NOAA season sweep of Sallisaw “They applied some pressure,” Collins said. “Sometimes we handle it, and sometimes we don’t. We struggled (Friday night) handling the pressure and making plays like we need to make. Hats off to Sallisaw.”
For the game, Jackson scored a gamehigh 22 points to lead Sallisaw, followed by Rodriguez and Stump with 12 points each and Nickell, Cooper Cox and Cooper Carter with four points apiece.
In defeat, Collins scored 19 points and Parker Sevenstar added 16 points to lead Muldrow, followed by Kashan Bukhari with eight points, Wilson with six points, Jesse Kilinc with five points and Hayden Bullock with three points.
MULDROW 34, SALLISAW 12
Back-to-back baskets by Sallisaw’s Kayli Macon and Molly Carver put the Lady Diamonds (6-12 overall, 1-6 in NOAA Conference play) ahead 4-2 with 3:14 left in the opening period. It would end up being Sallisaw’s last and only lead of the night. Muldrow led 5-4 after a quarter, thanks to a Cailey Grinstead free throw with 0.7 seconds left in the period.
Grinstead’s free throw sparked the Lady Bulldogs (13-5, 5-2), who went on a 14-0 run, capped by Kennedi “Kiki” Wight’s 3-point basket with 3:06 left before halftime, to give Muldrow a 16-4 lead.
However, the Lady Diamonds ended the first half with a 6-0 run, capped by Hannah Palmer’s free throw with 38 seconds remaining in the first half, to cut the Sallisaw deficit to 16-10 at halftime.
Both teams struggled to score in the third period as the only points came on a Wight basket with 3:52 left in the quarter to put Muldrow ahead 18-10.
In the final period, the Lady Bulldogs almost scored as many points (16) as they did the first three quarters (18).
However, while it took four quarters before the Muldrow offense started to click, the Muldrow defense sparkled all four periods. In fact, in the second half, the only points Sallisaw scored came from the free-throw line as Sydney Weedon and Macon each hit a charity toss to keep the Lady Diamonds from going the entire second half with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
“Until our offense catches up with our defense, we’re going to have to continue to play defense,” Muldrow girls coach Jana Armer said. “We absolutely are struggling scoring, but our defense has been solid for us all year long. We finally found something that worked for us (offensively in the fourth quarter) and got us a little bit of separation for us, but we’re going to hang our hats on our defense — and will for the rest of the year. When you have a group of seniors who know and understand that side (defense) and know how important that is in the grand scheme of things, that’s big I think.”
Sallisaw girls first-year coach Eric Carr, while crediting Muldrow’s defensive performance for some of the offensive woes the Lady Diamonds suffered, said that he believed his team executed fairly well — but could not get shots to drop.
“I give them credit because they do a good job defensively,” Carr said. “I told my kids that we did not play a bad basketball game. I thought we executed. I thought we got open shots. We just didn’t make shots. That’s the bottom line.”
For the game, Claire Tabor scored a gamehigh 11 points and Wight added 10 points to lead Muldrow, followed by Grinstead with seven points and London Hardin, Katelynn Moore and Kayla Ellingberg with two points apiece.
In defeat, Carver led Sallisaw with five points, followed by Macon with three points, Addy Orendorff with two points and Palmer and Weedon with a free throw apiece.