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Ardmore girls basketball uses team attack to beat Eisenhower

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

ARDMORE — The season may only be at the midway point, but the Ardmore High School girls basketball team has already dealt with its fair share of ups and downs.

That difficulty can sometimes be helpful, and the Lady Tigers proved it Tuesday with a 52-48 win over Lawton Eisenhower.

“That kind of seems to be our M.O. right now — we play really hard and then we’ll do some silly things and let them back in a little bit. Then we have to fight our way back,” said Ardmore head coach Debra Manley. “We held on to a 10- or 12-point lead there for a while. Then it got to six. But I was proud of the kids that played hard. We still don’t have a lot of practices under our belt. We’re getting better every game and that’s what we’re working on — just trying to get better at something every day.”

The Lady Tigers haven’t had many opportunities to practice or play after a recent quarantine forced them to miss four games.

Ardmore didn’t make excuses though, returning to the floor at the Ada Cougar Classic to win two of its three games. That streak kept going Tuesday with a win over a Class 5A foe.

Ardmore's Khalayah Willis scored 12 points Tuesday against Lawton Eisenhower.

They key was an 8-0 run late in the third that carried over to the fourth, which pushed the Lady Tigers’ 38-34 advantage to 46-34 with 7:16 remaining.

The Lady Eagles did inch closer, but Ardmore found another spark to hold on for the win.

Shakira Smith led the Lady Tigers with 18 points, while Khalayah Willis scored 12 and Chloe Rucker chipped in eight.

“We had to get started,” Smith said. “It was a little slow at first and then we started scoring and working together. It took a team though. It really did. Everyone was scoring, passing and working together. They were kind of getting a lot of steals off our passes. We had to fake it and then bounce pass it or something like that. But we got through it.”

Ardmore did get through it and improved to 6-1 on the season. The early success isn’t a surprise to the Lady Tigers though, as they’ve leaned on a team-first mentality.  

“Chloe Rucker came off the bench and had a great game for us — got some big rebounds,” Manley said. “Tiona Cohee rebounded the ball well. Reagan McCurley didn’t have her best game, but all of the other kids picked up the slack. Khalayah Willis gave us good minutes and good shooting. Honey Jefferson came off the bench. … Everybody did their role and I’m really pleased about that.”

Up next for Ardmore is a trip to the East Central Classic on Thursday, Jan. 7-9. The Lady Tigers then travel to Durant at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“It’s a weird year and we know it,” Manley said. “It’s happening to everybody. It’s just going to be whoever can respond the best to the situation and make the best of it. And whoever’s playing their best game at the end of February.”