The 2020 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic was canceled by a vote of 9-2 from board members at a meeting held recently at the Vision Bank branch on Arlington.
The local girls basketball tournament was scheduled to run Dec. 28-30 inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.
This year’s field was going to be highlighted by three local teams — the Ada Lady Cougars, the Latta Lady Panthers and the Vanoss Lady Wolves. All three of those squads will enter the 2020-21 season expected to be contenders in their respective classes.
It marks the first time a board of directors has canceled the popular holiday tournament since 2000.
Once Sequoyah-Tahlequah got a little breathing room in the fourth quarter, the team’s talented guards weren’t about to let a lead slip away.
The Lady Indians played a good game of keep away down the stretch, made clutch free throws and held off Vanoss 57-48 to claim the championship of the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.
The Lady Indians, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, ran their record to 9-1 on the year. Their only blemish was a 53-48 loss to Class 6A No. 6 Booker T. Washington Dec. 14 at the Tahlequah Tournament.
Meanwhile, Vanoss — No. 1 in Class 2A — saw its season-opening 12-game win streak come to an end and dropped to 12-1.
Jones won the rebounding battle 37-28 and had 15 offensive boards and was able to force Vanoss into 20 turnovers with its relentless defensive pressure.
“We knew they were going to be really good. If you’re going to beat them, you’re going to have to do a better job on the boards and not turn the basketball over,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt. “It’s hard to emulate what they do and when you don’t see that all year, it takes some time to get adjusted to their speed of the game and their length.”
The Lady Longhorns led 45-37 heading to the fourth quarter before Emily Wilson hit a 3-pointer and scored on a putback to get Vanoss within 45-42.
Rileigh Rush hit a free shot for Vanoss with 6:27 to play to make it 47-43, but tournament MVP Lexy Keys answered with two free throws of her own to push the Jones lead back to six with 5:55 showing.
Smalls Goudeau hit a bucket for Sequoyah-Tahlequah with just over four minutes left in the game to put her team on top 51-43, and Lizzy Simpson fouled out for Vanoss at the 3:57 mark. Those two plays began to signal the beginning of the end for the Lady Wolves.
The Lady Indians went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 3:08 — including four from Keys — all while milking precious time off the clock with each possession.
“In the end, we made free throws down the stretch and took care of the basketball, and that was the difference,” said Sequoyah-Tahlequah head coach Justin Brown. “We spread them out. Size is their strength, and guards are our strength. We had the lead and took advantage of our speed on the outside the last four or five minutes, and that made the difference.”
The Lady Indians led by as many as 10 during a 20-12 run in the second period, but a free throw by Emrie Ellis and a 3-point bank shot by Wilson just before halftime made it 27-21 at the break.
A Keys jumper midway through the third period put Sequoyah-Tahlequah ahead 34-27. Vanoss responded with nine consecutive points, including six by Simpson. Her basket with just over two minutes left in the period gave Vanoss a 36-34 lead and had the pro-Lady Wolves Kerr Center crowd rockin’.
However, the Lady Indians outscored Vanoss 11-1 over the final minutes of the third period — including a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper by Baylee Davis — to build a 45-37 lead and set the stage for the fourth quarter.
Hurt said the entire Mid-America experience should pay dividends for the Lady Wolves on down the road.
“I’m really proud of the kids. We played some of the best teams in the state for three straight days and looked pretty good throughout. We can learn from this because we’re going to play other good teams … It will help us in the long run,” he said.
Simpson led the charge for Vanoss despite her early exit. She finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, both team-highs. Wilson tossed in 14 points and hit four 3-pointers, and Ellis chimed in with 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and two steals.
Keys played every bit of the MVP role for Sequoyah-Tahlequah. She finished with a game-high 25 points, hit 15-of-16 free throws and had five steals.
“She’s our leader. She does a little bit of everything. She handles it, shoots it and plays great defense,” Brown said. “What I’m most proud of is she hooks up on both ends of the floor. She’s not just out there to shoot it. She’s going to guard you — I don’t know how many deflections she gets in a game. She just makes everyone else around her better. Kids like that are hard to come by, and we’re lucky to have one.”
Goudeau added 10 points and nine rebounds for the winners, while Jaide Long followed with eight points, including a pair of 3-point baskets. Jessica Mackey also scored eight points off the bench and had two triples of her own.
Ironically, Sequoyah-Tahlequah wasn’t one of the original eight teams that were selected to compete in the 2019 Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank. Another team dropped out in Mid-November, and the Lady Indians jumped at the chance to enter the Mid-America field.
“There’s a reason this tournament is considered one of the best. I’ve been to other big tournaments over the holidays, but the way our kids were treated and the way the tournament is ran is just on another level,” Brown said. “We had a great time, and we appreciate all the hospitality here. We couldn’t be more thankful to be here and honored to be a part of it. It’s unfortunate for the way it worked out for the other school. But like I said, we’re honored to be here. I’ve always held this tournament in high regard, and we enjoyed it.”
Emrie Ellis got Vanoss off to a quick start and then she got help from her friends in a 64-34 win over Kingston in the late game Thursday at the 43rd Annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.
Vanoss, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, stayed unbeaten at 11-0 on the year, while Kingston — No. 13 in Class 3A — dropped to 2-4.
Vanoss will tangle with Christian Heritage Academy at 8 p.m. Friday night in a semifinal contest, while Kingston faces Canute at 4:30 p.m. in consolation play.
“We played well. We did a lot of things we need to do to win. There are also some things we need to do if we’re going to compete with CHA tomorrow,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt.
Ellis scored 11 of her team’s first 13 points to help the Lady Wolves start the game on a 17-5 run. That VHS surge was capped early in the second quarter when freshman Trinity Belcher, all 5-foot, 1-inch of her, grabbed a rebound and threw an outlet pass to Emily Wilson for a layup.
Then, Lizzy Simpson scored inside at the 6:03 mark to give Vanoss its 12-point lead.
Kingston had cut the lead to 19-13 after a 3-pointer by Presley McKnight at the 4:39 mark of the second period. Vanoss answered with a 10-2 surge capped when Alexus Belcher banked in a 3-pointer that put the Lady Wolves in front 30-15.
Vanoss led 33-19 at halftime.
The Lady Wolves started the third quarter on an 11-4 run and after an Emily Wilson drained a 3-pointer, Vanoss led 44-23 at the 3:56 point of the period.
Ellis hit three consecutive jumpers at the halfway point of the final frame to put Vanoss ahead 62-30. She finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting. The University of Arkansas commit hit a pair of 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and blocked six shots.
“Emrie’s a pretty solid player. When she’s focused, she’s not bad,” Hurt said.
Wilson hit 7-of-12 field goals, including two 3-pointers, and scored 17 for Vanoss. She also had eight assists.
Lizzy Simpson went a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor for 12 points to go with a team-best nine rebounds.
Brit Henderson led the way for the Lady Redskins with 11 points and four rebounds. Presley McKnight and Ryan Herdon followed with six points each.
Vanoss finished 28-of-47 (59.6%) from the field compared to a 12-of-47 (25.5%) shooting performance by Kingston.
Hurt said his team will need to be better against the Lady Crusaders.
“CHA has the best guard play we’ll see all year. They have some of the best guard play in any class,” Hurt said. “They’re two best guards are studs. Our guards will have to step up their level of play tomorrow.”
Hydro-Eakly entered the Mid-America Classic undefeated and had coasted by most of its opponents.
The shoe was on the other foot Thursday in a first-round battle with high-powered Sequoyah-Tahlequah.
The Lady Indians held Hydro-Eakly to a single point in the second quarter en route to a 37-15 halftime lead and coasted past the Lady Bobcats 55-47.
Sequoyah-Tahlequah, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, improved to 7-1 on the year, while Hyrdo-Eakly — No. 1 in Class A — dropped to 8-1.
The game wasn’t quite as close as the score might indicate. After Daryl Hooper buried a 3-pointer with 4:19 to play, the Lady Indian led 53-35. Hydro-Eakly ended the game with a 12-2 run.
The Lady Indians used a 9-0 run that ended the first quarter and carried over into the second period to grab a 30-14 lead. Jessica Mackey’s layup on a fast break capped the run for Sequoyah-Tahlequah at the 4:54 mark of the second period.
Sequoyah-Tahlequah then scored the final seven points of the quarter to take a 37-15 lead at halftime.
Smalls Goudeau led a balanced Sequoyah-Tahlequah offense with 16 points to go with seven rebounds. Hooper scored 13 points off the bench for the Lady Indians. Lexy Keys added 10 points, five rebounds and four steals for the winners, who out-rebounded Hydro-Eakly 34-23.
The Lady Bobcats got 18 points from Rachel Barry, who finished 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Kira Berkey added 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Sequoyah-Tahlequah plays Jones at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a big semifinal game and Hydro-Eakly and Hartshorne will start Friday’s action at 3 p.m.
It’s not about how Christian Heritage started. It’s how the Lady Crusaders finished.
Christian Heritage outscored Canute 20-2 over the final five minutes of the game and turned a close game into a 66-44 runaway victory Thursday in the first round of the 43rd Berta Frank Teague Mid-America Classic inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.
The Lady Crusaders, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, improved to 6-1 on the year while Canute — No. 2 in Class A, dropped to 11-2. The Trojanettes had won seven straight games heading into the Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank.
CHA senior standout Rylee Langerman, who plans to play college basketball at the University of Arkansas, scored her team’s first nine points. But after scoring on a nice left-handed layup at the 3:55 mark of the first period, she scored just one more point in the first half.
Canute buried six 3-pointers in the first half and took advantage of a cold-shooting Christian Heritage Academy bunch to carry a 29-21 lead into the break.
The Trojanettes led 15-11 after the first period and outscored CHA 14-10 in the second. The Lady Crusaders led 20-18 after a 3-pointer by Myka Parish midway through the period. Canute responded by ending the first half on an 11-1 surge that included consecutive 3-point baskets by Kirstyn Strain (who hit two) and Kylie Savage.
The Lady Crusaders went a cool 2-of-18 (11.1%) from beyond the arc through the first two quarters and were 8-of-30 (26.7%) overall.
CHA outscored Canute 19-7 in the third period to grab a 40-36 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
Strain, who hit seven 3-point shots and finished with a game-high 23 points, hit a triple with just over five minutes left to make it 46-42.
Christian Heritage Academy then went on its huge game-ending run.
Langerman ended with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists and three steals to pace the Lady Crusaders.
Lexi Davis buried four 3-pointers and finished with 19 points for CHA. Grace Littlejim also registered a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Haley Schreck just missed double figures with nine points for Canute.
It’s always tough keeping up with the Joneses. Just ask the Hartshorne Lady Miners. They had an awfully tough time keeping up with Jones Thursday in the first round of the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.
Jones raced out to a 20-2 lead and never really looked back in a 67-29 win over Hartshorne.
The Lady Longhorns, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, improved to 5-0 on the year, while Hartshorne — No. 2 in Class 2A — lost for the first time and fell to 8-1. Jones is coached by Jenni Holbrook and Hartshorne is coached by Mark Woolard.
Senior Bailey Ely went 4-for-4 from the 3-point stripe and scored 14 points during the big Jones volley to start the game. She finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Harthorne had eight turnovers in the first quarter and started the game 0-of-7 from the field before Ashton Hackler scored with 50 seconds left in the frame. The Lady Miners had 14 turnovers by halftime and trailed 28-11 at the break.
Jones outscored the Lady Miners 20-10 in a big third period to carry a 48-21 lead into the final period.
Caley Young scored 18 points and had five rebounds, three assists and three blocks for the Lady Longhorns. Tirzah Moore followed with 15 points to go with five rebounds and five assists.
Hartshorne got 11 points from Ashton Hackler and 10 points from Jaylee Moore.
Jones advances to a 6:30 p.m. Friday semifinal game, while the Lady Miners will play in a 3 p.m. consolation contest.