Friday, January 22, 2010

Poteau girls show heart

Nobody likes to lose on a basketball court or in life.

Sometimes, though, you find more about a person or a team when it is going through adversity.

That is the case for the Poteau girls basketball team. The Lady Pirates entered the county tournament with only two wins and few people expected them to do much this week.

In the first round, the sixth-seeded Lady Pirates barely survived a first-round game against little Whitesboro.

Next up was third-seeded LeFlore. Another close game, but Poteau clawed and scratched its way to advance to the semifinals against Howe, the two-time defending champions which was undefeated on the season.

Earlier in the month, Howe had downed the Lady Pirates fairly easily in a game at Poteau.

So the odds were definitely stacked against Poteau.

Not many people gave the Lady Pirates a chance. In the earlier game, Howe jumped out to a huge lead but Poteau played fairly even over the last three quarters.

This time, Poteau kept the game close. The Lady Pirates spread the court on offense and showed good patience. On defense, Poteau packed the defense to try and slow down Howe’s powerful inside game.

Every time Howe landed a punch, the Lady Pirates hit right back. It didn’t take long to realize this was a different game and a different team.

Howe led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter before Poteau rallied to take a lead at halftime. The lead grew to seven early in the third quarter before Howe rallied.

The Lady Lions eventually grabbed a 33-28 lead in the fourth quarter. Poteau had given a great effort, but the Lady Pirates were hanging on to the end of a long rope.

But Poteau was not through. Behind two threes by Courtney Allison, who had picked up her fourth foul in the first half, the Lady Pirates tied the game with 3:12 left.

Howe bounced back and Allison, who led all scorers with 19 points fouled out with just over a minute remaining.

The Lady Lions still could not shake the determined Lady Pirates. In the last seconds, Poteau had a chance to tie the score but it wasn’t meant to be. Howe’s Chelsea Baggs hit a clinching free throw and the game was over.

Poteau’s outstanding effort was not rewarded with a win. The loss hurt and there were some tears from the players wearing the white uniforms on this night. But while the scoreboard read Howe 40, Poteau 36, there were no losers on this memorable night.

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