Jan. 20—Fans roared as the two teams left everything out on the floor, refusing to give an inch as they battled to the final horn.
Kiowa and Pittsburg battled Saturday in the 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament final at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, where the Cowgirls held on for the 51-43 win to be named tournament champions for the first time since 2021.
Cowgirls coach Keith Quaid said a hot start from Paige Igou was the spark that helped ignite the Kiowa offense. But he credited the Lady Panthers on a tough-fought ballgame.
"Paige played really well that first quarter, then (Pittsburg) made some great defensive adjustments and kind of held her in check the rest of the game," he said. "And (Pittsburg) is solid as well, just like our girls...I think we're only going to get better and grow from it."
And Quaid said he was proud of the way his team responded to not only a battle with a tough opponent, but a playoff-like environment on a big stage.
"It was a good experience for us. So we were quite happy to get the win. That was one of our goals this year (to win the Pitt 8)," he said. "It was an intense atmosphere."
Akiera Hawk put the Lady Panthers on the board first with a swishing three, and Paige Igou answered with one of her own for the Cowgirls. Emma Roberts then drove through the lane to put the ball into the cylinder, giving Kiowa the lead.
Igou followed with a kiss off the glass, with the Cowgirls taking the 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter as a timeout was called. On the other side, it was Igou again with the hard-earned shot as she was fouled — draining her free throw to extend the Cowgirl run.
Hawk forced her way to the free throw line, hitting both foul shots to cut into the deficit. Igou drilled another triple in response, and then another on the next possession to send Kiowa fans into a frenzy.
She wasn't done yet, as Igou swished one more at the buzzer for 17 first-period points to give the Cowgirls a 20-5 lead after the opening quarter.
Hawk got the Lady Panthers moving at the start of the second period with a swishing trey from the top of the arc, and Chuck Couch earned a bucket under the basket to cut into the Kiowa lead. The Lady Panthers later got a bucket from Mady Heffley, pulling Pittsburg within five points.
Emma Roberts drove for a score, but Hawk responded with a short-range jumper to make it a 24-19 Kiowa lead with 3:09 to play in the half and a timeout called. Kacee Rose got the last say for the Cowgirls, swishing a three at the buzzer to give Kiowa the 27-19 lead at the break.
Maccie Bain opened the second half for the Cowgirls with a post-up score, with Chuck Couch answering for the Lady Panthers. Ella Roberts later nabbed a hard-earned score falling away from the basket, giving Kiowa a 32-21 lead.
Emma Roberts found her spot on an inbounds pass, drilling a corner trey. Hawk later answered for Pittsburg to break the Kiowa run. She then nailed another three, followed by free throws to cut the Kiowa lead to nine.
But Emma Roberts finished the quarter like she started it, hitting one more three at the buzzer to give the Cowgirls the 41-29 lead.
Couch and Hawk took a pair of trips to the charity stripe, using free throws to cut the deficit to single digits. But on the next offensive trip down the floor, Alison Wolfenbarger drained a three to inflate the Kiowa lead once more.
Maccie Bain was next fouled on a made shot, sinking her extra free throw to continue the Cowgirl run. Hawk nailed another triple followed by one from Aspen Duvall to end the Kiowa run and cut the lead back down to nine.
Heffley drilled a mid-range jumper, and a timeout was called as Pittsburg trimmed the score to 47-40 with 3:10 to play. On the other side, Maccie Bain was fouled and made both of her free throws to create some space.
That helped be the difference, as the Cowgirl ball-handling and clutch free throws from Ella Roberts seal away the win.
Igou led the Cowgirls with 17 points, followed by Maccie Bain and Emma Roberts with 10 points each, Ella Roberts with seven points, Rose and Wolfenbarger with three points each, and Mollie Bain with a free throw.
Hawk led the Lady Panthers with a game-high 28 points, followed by Couch with six points, Duvall with five points, and Heffley with four points.
SAVANNA 48, CANADIAN 34 (Third place)
The Lady Bulldogs weren't going away quietly.
Savanna and Canadian faced off in Saturday's third-place game at the 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament inside the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, where the Lady Bulldogs used a second-half surge to win 48-34 to earn third-place honors.
Kylie James put the Lady Bulldogs on the board, followed by Makenna Hoffman with a pair of free throws for the early 4-0 lead. Kirstin Clark drilled a triple for the Lady Cougars, cutting the lead down to one.
The defensive efforts for both teams took over for the remainder of the quarter, leading to a 7-4 Savanna lead heading into the second quarter.
Yonariya Nichols earned a pair of free throws for the Lady Cougars, then drove through the lane for a score on the next possession to take a 8-7 lead in the first minute of the period. Clark followed with another swishing three, pushing the lead out to four.
But the Lady Bulldogs weren't going away quietly, and a scoring run capped by a shot from Ryleigh Ivy made it a 15-13 Canadian lead as a timeout was called with 3:37 to play in the half. Hoffman next nabbed another free throw for Savanna, and Bry Vanciel later added a triple to tie up the game at 17-17.
Ava Moreno was sent to the line, hitting the back end of her foul shots to give Canadian the narrow 18-17 lead at the locker room break.
Both teams fought neck-and-neck on the other side, but a three-point play from Vanciel put the Lady Bulldogs on the high side with under three minutes to play in the third quarter. Back and forth they battled, with Savanna leads 26-25 after three quarters.
Vanciel drilled a triple to start the fourth, and free throws from Sophia Calistro put the Lady Bulldogs up by two possessions. Vanciel later nailed another trey, putting Savanna up by double digits.
Calistro drove the lane, sinking a shot while she was fouled — nailing her and-one foul shot to the roar of the Savanna faithful.
That tipped the scales firmly in the Lady Bulldogs' favor, sealing away the third-place victory.
Calistro led Savanna with 20 points, followed by Vanciel with 17 points, Hoffman with six points, Ivy with two points, and Maddie Lenardo with a free throw.
Jones led Canadian with 11 points, followed by Nichols with nine points, Clark with seven points, Moreno with five points, and Madyson Satterfield with two points.
CROWDER 40, STUART 17 (Consolation championship)
Despite the chilly temperatures outside, the Demonettes brought the heat.
Crowder and Stuart faced off in Saturday's consolation championship of the 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament at the Southeast Expo Center, where the Demonettes used red-hot shooting to win 40-17 and be named consolation champions.
Alexas Lizik got the Demonettes on the board with a three-points play, and Adison Womack drained a three to pull Crowder into a 6-0 lead. Reagan Wade next broke the ice for the Lady Hornets with a score, and later nabbed a free throw to trim the lead down to three.
Lizik sank a quick jumper, and Peyton Smith drilled a triple to extend the Crowder lead. Womack nailed another three, with Jacie Crenshaw driving for a score to answer. The back and forth continued through the final seconds of the quarter, with Crowder leading 16-6 after the first quarter.
Smith drilled a trey to start the second quarter, with Womack later following with one of her own to ignite the Demonette offense. Smith got another, followed by Briley Parker swishing one of her own. The scorching-hot shooting propelled Crowder throughout the half, leading to a 28-10 lead at the horn.
Crowder kept the momentum going into the second half of play, leading 37-13 into the fourth quarter and running out to the win.
Smith led the way with 17 points for the Demonettes, followed by Womack and Lizik with nine points each, and Parker with five points.
Wade led the Lady Hornets with 10 points, followed by Crenshaw and Jaydee Hall with four points each, and Joey Steele with two points.
Here is the complete 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament girls bracket:
G1: Canadian 51, Stuart 48 (OT)
G2: Kiowa 73, Haileyville 12
G3: Savanna 39, Crowder 32
G4: Pittsburg 53, Indianola 31
G5: Kiowa 68, Canadian 35
G6: Pittsburg 47, Savanna 25
G7: Stuart 63, Haileyville 34
G8: Crowder 37, Indianola 22
G9: Crowder 40, Stuart 17 (Consolation championship)
G10: Savanna 48, Canadian 34 (Third place)
G11: Kiowa 51, Pittsburg 43 (Championship)