LOCUST GROVE, OK —
The Locust Grove girls opened up a 14-point lead and held off No. 4 Vinita, 52-46, at Pirate Arena Friday to improve to 4-0.
“It means a lot to us coaches, I can tell you that for sure, but it means a lot to the kids. They’ve earned it, they’ve worked really hard, and it’s kind of become the expectation now that we can win and play with anybody,” LG head coach Justin Brown said about upsetting Vinita.
Lady Pirate senior point guard Sydnie Pierce led all scorers with 18. Ten of Pierce’s points came from the free-throw line. Junior Kennedy Sokoloski also posted 10 points.
Four games into the season, Locust Grove has had a different points leader in each game.
“We have a lot of kids that can score and to be honest with you, I thought that might be a weakness for us, but it’s turned out to be a strength,” Brown said. "The kids that are good shooters are getting good shots and the ones that aren’t are finding the ones that can and so everyone is starting to buy into their role and that’s what a team does. They figure out what their roles are and they do them."
Locust Grove has already knocked off two top-20 foes (No. 4 Vinita, No. 12 Hilldale) and will get another opportunity Jan. 3 when they travel to Fort Gibson for a contest with 4A's No. 1 Lady Tigers.
“Our motto since the beginning has just been one game at a time, so we haven’t even thought about Fort Gibson until tonight,” Brown said. "We’re going to go from No. 4 to No. 1, so it doesn’t get any easier, but those are the kind of games that get you ready for the playoffs, so we’re looking forward to it."
Pirtle's late layup propels LG
LOCUST GROVE — Locust Grove slid by yet another opponent Friday night, defeating Vinita 55-54 on a game-winning layup by sophomore Jason Pirtle in front of an electrifying home crowd.
Pirtle and the Pirates improved to 4-0 after Pirtle rebounded his own shot and made a layup with 0.2 seconds remaining in the game. Pirtle was fouled on the shot, too, but missed the free throw.
“Well I missed my first shot, but it fell back in my hands and I just figured it was God giving me a second chance, so I went up again and made it. It was a little sketchy,” Pirtle said.
Pirtle tied junior Colton Pike as the team’s leading scorer with 15 after posting his first career double-double the previous night against Salina.
Locust Grove controlled the momentum most of the game and at one point led by 18 in the third period. The young squad found themselves in a bind after a plunder of turnovers and an exceptional second half performance by Vinita’s Phillip Willis. Willis led all scorers with 20 points and created hope for the dangerous Vinita squad.
The Hornets took the lead twice in the final three minutes, and both times Pirtle came through for the Pirates with a clutch layup. Vinita seemed to have sealed the victory after taking over the momentum after Willis' two free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining gave the Hornets a 54-53 lead.