By SHAWN YORKS
• Leader & Times
HOOKER, Okla. — The Hooker Lady Bulldogs seemed to be snake-bit on Monday night. The Lady Dogs fell to Elkhart 64-54, and they executed their game plan well enough in the second half.
But every time the Lady Dogs (9-12) would make a run, the Elkhart Lady Wildcats would answer, and pull away. A lack of free throws and superior rebounding by Elkhart was the difference.
“They had 10 offensive boards in the first half and we only had four,” Hooker head coach Ray Kennedy said. “So they really pounded us on the boards in the first half.”
Despite that, Hooker made a game of it. Elkhart held a 14-13 advantage at the end of the first quarter and had pulled that out to a 30-23 lead at the half.
Shots by Crystal Ferguson, Shayla Mathis, Jade Cathcart and Brittney Bergner gave Hooker an 8-6 lead early. But Elkhart kept pace, and a shot by Kali Hoskinson tied it at 8 before Payton Fleming gave the Lady Wildcats a 10-8 advantage — and Elkhart would never trail again. Hooker did manage to tie it at 19 with 5:07 left in the second on a basket by Jayme Walton.
Elkhart led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but Hooker wouldn’t go away quietly on senior night.
Down 41-28, baskets by Morgan Daves and Walton, and two free throws by Mathis cut it to 41-36 at the end of the third period. The Lady Dogs carried that momentum into the fourth, cutting it to 41-38 on an inside shot by Cathcart.
Mathis kept pace for Hooker, cutting it back to three at 43-40 before Elkhart went on a quick 6-0 surge to pull away, helped along by two Hooker turnovers.
“That was a big key for us to be able to come back and make a game of it,” Kennedy said.
Mathis ended up with nine offensive rebounds and Crystal Ferguson five in the second half to keep Hooker in the game.
But on the flip side of that, the Lady Dogs had a bad night at the free throw line.
“We missed a bunch of front ends, 18-for-29,” Kennedy said. “We had a lot of opportunities and we just didn’t take advantage like we needed to.”
Mathis led Hooker with 15 points and Cathcart added 12. Fleming led Elkhart with 22.
The Lady Dogs will take on Laverne on Friday in Beaver’s Duster Dome in the district semifinals. The winner plays Beaver for the district title on Saturday.
“I think being a competitive game like this is — win or lose —is better for you then winning by 30 or 40,” Kennedy said. “If we can keep our heads up, we’ll be fine.”
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