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CHAMPIONS: Lady Tigers hold off Hornets comeback, take district crown in hostile enviroment

Feb. 13—TULSA — With time running out in the fourth quarter, the Tahlequah Lady Tigers had two key plays to help them secure the 71-67 win and the 5A District-3 Champions over the Booker T. Washington Hornets.

Right after a timeout, the Lady Tigers were able to break through the Hornets' front and found Kori Rainwater and Jadydyn Buttery wide open on the block. Coming on back-to-back plays the pair of baskets were crucial to close out the Hornets.

"Really we knew if we broke their initial pressure we could get someone open. Credit Jersey and Taylyn they made good passes," THS Head Coach David Qualls said.

Early on in the game, the Hornets took a big lead. Throughout the first four minutes of the first quarter, the Hornets hit five three-pointers and held an early 17-5 lead. Around this time, Qualls called a timeout looking to get his players back into the contest.

The timeout proved to be crucial for THS. The Lady Tigers found their footing and were able to cut the deficit to just 20-16 by the second quarter.

Going into halftime, the Lady Tigers would take a 38-27 lead.

The start of the second half was a back-and-forth defensive battle for both sides. Throughout the quarter, the Lady Tigers had just nine points, while the Hornets were right there with 11.

The start of the third quarter saw the Hornets surge. After picking up just seven points in the first three quarters, Marcayla Johnson found her footing and put up 17 fourth-quarter points for the Hornets. Johnson's surge brought the game within one possession for the Hornets.

Despite the late surge, the Lady Tigers held on to take the win and the district crown.

"That was a great game, great atmosphere, I am proud of my team," Qualls said. "We didn't start great, but we battled back and stayed poised." It wasn't pretty but they don't lose very many home games, credit to our girls for battling."

THS had a trio of players in double digits. Taylyn Dick and Butter led the way with 19 points a piece. Rainwater added 16.

THS will open the Regional Tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 20 against Tulsa Edison. Official brackets are released on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at noon.

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