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HUNTED DOWN: Tigers' poor final minutes of fourth lead to loss to Wolves

Jan. 19—SHAWNEE — Despite a closer game in the second round of the Shawnee Invite, the Tahlequah Tigers once again came up short after their offense couldn't get the wheels moving.

THS was dropped by the host Wolves 57-49 on Friday, Jan. 19 to get sent to the seventh-place game in the invite. Despite being within two points in the final two minutes, the Tigers could not get a shot to drop from the field.

"We didn't play up to what we thought we could play, we didn't shoot the ball well. We were in the game so that is a positive. We are trying to figure some things out but when you don't shoot well as a team it's hard," THS Head Coach Duane Jones said.

After falling down to Mustang early in the first day of the tournament, the Tigers were able to stay in it through the first quarter trailing by just two [13-11] by the end.

The second quarter saw a more explosive THS offense. Halfway through the quarter, the Tigers took their first lead of the game 25-24 after a Donovan Smith bucket. THS couldn't keep a hold on the lead and quickly gave it back to SHS.

After taking the lead, the Tigers' offense went silent for much of the remainder of the first half. The Wolves extended their lead by as much as six points before Zeke Guerrero hit a three-pointer to cut the score to 34-31 going into halftime.

Going into the third quarter, the Tigers were still showing life and the possibility of turning the tides of the game. About halfway through the third THS retook the lead. During that span, the Tigers took a two-possession lead for the first time.

The final two minutes of the quarter would be action-packed. After a couple of possessions, the Wolves retook the lead but gave it back to the Tigers with a pair of Smith free throws. Just when it looked like the Tigers were going to go into their first quarter with a lead, the Wolves got a key bucket as the buzzer sounded to go up 44-43.

SHS was able to extend their lead early in the fourth quarter. Despite the Tigers not shooting well during the period, by the time the two-minute mark came they were down by just two points [50-48].

Shortly after getting within two points, the Tigers were dealt a big blow. THS' leading scorer at the time, Smith, picked up his fifth and final foul dealing a hug blow to the Tigers.

"When Donovan fouled out it took our main scoring option away. We got some open looks, what we wanted but we just couldn't make shots today," Jones said.

With Smith now watching the game from the sidelines, the Tigers could not find the back of the net. The Tigers finished the rest of the game with just one point as the Wolves would pick up seven to secure the win. SHS moves on to the consolation championship on Saturday, Jan. 20 with a 57-49 win.

THS's struggles with shooting led to the loss according to Jones. Despite just having one practice before the tournament, Jones doesn't blame the lack of gym time for the loss.

"They were in the gym as much as they were and they still shot fine, some days you just don't shoot well," Jones said.

The loss moves the Tigers to 8-5 on the year and marks their third straight loss, the first time they have lost more than one game in a row.

THS will be back in action at 11:30 p.m. in the seventh-place game for their final game of the THS invite. The Tigers return to district play at 7:30 p.m. at Claremore to take on the Zebras. In their first meeting, THS took down CHS 50-46.

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