Tournament Tour wraps up in LeFlore County
The LeFlore County Tournament definitely didn’t disappoint, especially on the girls side, where two of the top small-schools girls teams in the state faced off with Howe beating Pocola by 18 to break the Lady Indians streak of three consecutive championships.
The game came down to game management by Lady Lions coach Chris Brown. In the first half, the game looked like it would devolve into a free-throw contest with fouls seemingly being called on every possession. Five minutes into the game, it was already bonus time. Just a few mintues later, both teams were in double bonus.
Brown anticipated it early and readily substituted in the first quarter.
“We wanted to spread those fouls out so we wouldn’t have anyone in real foul trouble,” Brown said. “I felt like that one through five, we’re about even with Pocola. Six, seven and eight, though, I thought we had the advantage.”
Howe also got called for significantly less fouls in the first half but even if there was a discrepancy in the way the game was called (and I didn’t see any outrageous foul calls or non-calls, especially after how tight the game was called in the first half), it certainly wouldn’t have made an 18-point difference.
Pocola coach Mark McKenzie thinks otherwise, though. McKenzie loudly objected, it didn’t seem like to individual calls but to the foul count. Eventually, he was T’d up. Later in the game, Pocola star Ashley Hobbs fouled out and made her way to the bench before deciding she had something to say. Hobbs walked in the direction of the referee, yelling along the way, before being given a technical of her own. Hobbs was one of two who fouled out for Pocola.
“The kids didn’t get to decide this game; the officials handcuffed us in the first couple of minutes of the game and it took us out of our game plan, and for these kids not to get to decide this game was a travesty and is just a sad injustice to the game of basketball,” McKenzie told the Times Record of Fort Smith, Ark., after the game. “It wasn’t right for not just our kids but the Howe kids and all the fans that came out to see this game. The kids deserved the chance to determine the outcome of the game on the floor but we were handcuffed from the beginning with fouls that dictated everything we could do.”
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