Kilburn leads second-half surge as McAlester battles in Mid-America finale

Dec. 30—ADA — A tale of two halves decided the third-place game.

McAlester stared down Merritt Saturday in the final day of the 46th Annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic at East Central University, where the Lady Buffs surged in the second half but fell 60-45.

The Lady Oilers started the game hot, hitting three straight triples to take an early lead. McAlester got on the board as Rylee Forehand found Beaudee Nystrom for a score, but Merritt answered on the way to a 20-2 lead after the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, Katie Allen and Rylan Lesnau added in points for the Lady Buffs to cut into the deficit. But Merritt struck right back with a 12-3 run to lead 38-11 at the half.

Tori Kilburn came out of the locker room with a vengeance for the Lady Buffs. She scored the half's opening bucket and took control of the game — powering her way to 18 third-quarter points to make it a 55-34 Merritt lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Kylie Dooney nailed a pair of free throws to start the final period, with Kilburn adding in a triple the next time down the floor. Merritt answered with a 5-0 run, but that'd be the only points it scored in the fourth as McAlester's defense locked down the floor.

Lesnau nabbed a bucket and Kilburn earned four more points to end the game, but it'd be the Lady Oilers weathering the McAlester second-half storm for the win.

Kilburn led the way for McAlester, earning a double-double with 28 points and 13 boards. Allen followed with five points, followed by Lesnau and Nystrom with four points each, and Madi VanDorpe and Dooney with two points each.

Kilburn was named to the 2023 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic All-Tournament Team.

Next up for McAlester, the Lady Buffs will face Muskogee in the opening round of the inaugural Primus Moore Invitation Thursday at the McAlester Activity Center, with tipoff set for 10 a.m.

Here is the complete 2023 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic updated bracket:


G1: Washington 64, Hartshorne 57

G2: McAlester 45, Kingfisher 36

G3: Carl Albert 52, Bethel 37

G4: Merritt 62, Byng 39


G5: Kingfisher 51, Hartshorne, 29

G6: Bethel 67, Byng 62

G7: Washington 43, McAlester 40

G8: Carl Albert 52, Merritt 47


G9: Byng 69, Hartshorne 50 (Seventh place)

G10: Kingfisher 57, Bethel 22 (Fifth place)

G11: Merritt 60, McAlester 45 (Third place)

G12: Carl Albert 42, Washington 40 (Championship)