Fort Gibson knocks off Tulsa Central to reach title game
In a contest between the two top-ranked teams in Class 4A, No. 1 Fort Gibson downed No. 2 Tulsa Central, 62-58, Friday night at State Fair Arena.
Fort Gibson's win sets up a state championship game with Kingfisher in the final game Saturday at the Big House. Both schools are looking for their first state championship in boys' basketball.
Rico Ybarra scored a game-high 17 points, seven in the final quarter, to lead Fort Gibson (29-1). Carson Calavan added 16 points for the Tigers and Jace Shepherd had 15.
It looked good for Tulsa Central early, scoring the first nine points of the game, all on 3-pointers. Saboor Daniels hit the first two and Corey Johnson added the third.
The Braves hit four of their first five 3-point attempts in building a 12-5 early lead but missed their next eight 3-point tries, going 4 of 13 in the first half
Fort Gibson chipped away, outscoring Tulsa Central 7-2 in the final minutes of the opening period before a Braves' basket by Elijah Landrum gave Tulsa Central a 16-12 edge after the first quarter.
After Tulsa Central started misfiring from the 3-point line in the second quarter, Fort Gibson took its first lead of the game, 21-19, on a step-back 3-pointer from Calavan.
Fort Gibson would eventually go up by six points before Tulsa Central regained the lead. But Shepherd's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Tigers a 30-28 halftime edge.
The two teams traded baskets to open the second half before back-to-back 3-pointers by Shepherd gave Fort Gibson a little breathing room with a 40-33 lead.
The third quarter was a 3-point shooting contest between Shepherd and Daniels as both hit three in the period. Fort Gibson led 45-43 after three.
After free throws by Landrum to open the third tied the game, Fort Gibson took over. A three-point play by Ybarra led a stretch of seven straight points by the senior forward. A bucket by Kyle Dortch gave the Tigers a 58-49 lead, their biggest of the game, with less than four minutes left.
Tulsa Central (18-10) scored the next six points to cut the lead to 58-55 with less than a minute left. Corey Johnson was fouled on a 3-point shot with 23.5 seconds left and hit two of three, cutting the Tigers' lead to 59-57.
But Fort Gibson was able to hang on as Shepherd was fouled with 21.8 seconds left and hit both free throws, then sank another with six seconds left to seal the win.
Ed Godfrey, Staff Writer