The Altus Junior High Lady Dawgs (13-2) went into the Cache Junior High Tournament knowing they would be tasked with taking on tough competitors in a historically difficult tournament.
It was something the Lady Dawgs learned early on when they faced the Cache Lady Bulldogs in the opening round.
“If it could go wrong, it did,” said Coach Robert Garrison. “We couldn’t shoot, couldn’t defend, couldn’t pass, but Cache hit everything. You name it and they were making it, including half court shots.”
Played in a semi-packed Cache High School Stadium, the crowd may have played a part in the Lady Dawgs’ early collapse.
“Maybe all the cheering people got into their heads,” said Garrison. “We just couldn’t recover from the early deficit.”
The Lady Dawgs trailed 13-7 in the early going and were outscored 15-6 in the second quarter. The Cache run included a buzzer-beating half court shot that sent Altus into the half down 28-13.
Cache continued to pour in the points, outscoring Altus 18-11 in the final half to secure the win and send the Lady Dawgs into the consolation bracket.
It was just the second loss of the season for the Lady Dawgs, but the key for them was to regroup for a battle with Lawton Central.
“I was worried about a letdown following the loss to Cache,” said Garrison. “After about a minute, the girls got back to their old ways and put the game against Lawton out of reach.”
The Lady Dawgs put points on the board quickly, outscoring Lawton 20-6 in the first and 20-0 in the second to go into the half with a 40-6 lead.
Lawton asked for a running clock in the final frame, and the Lady Dawgs went on to win the game by a final score of 40-6.
The win put Altus in the consolation championship game against the Elgin Lady Owls.
The championship game was played on Saturday and it was the third meeting between the two teams with Altus winning both previous games by 22 and 18 points respectively.
Using a suffocating press defense, the Lady Dawgs forced Elgin into committing multiple turnovers that resulted in several fastbreak layups for Altus, helping them build a lead and put the Lady Owls in a hole in the early going.
Altus led 14-3 after one quarter and never looked back, increasing their lead to 20-3 as time expired in the first half of play.
The Lady Dawgs outscored Elgin 8-0 in the third quarter prompting Elgin’s coach to request a “running clock” in the final frame.
Altus finished out the game by outscoring Elgin 5-2 in the fourth to win the consolation championship with a 33-5 victory.
Johnson led all scorers with a three-game average of 12.6.
The Dawgs will be in Duncan on Thursday to take on the Lady Demons before closing out their season at home on Feb. 7 against Clinton.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.