MULDROW — The Muldrow High School basketball teams opened their 2023-24 basketball seasons successfully as they swept the visiting Eufaula squads Tuesday night at Roger Sharp Activity Center.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the girls-boys doubleheader with a 5333 win, then the ’Dogs bit the Ironheads 50-37.
Muldrow 53, Eufaula 33
With the game tied at three with 7:237 left in the first quarter, the Lady Bulldogs (10) went on a 7-1 run, capped by a basket by Kayla Elingberg with 3:10 left in the first quarter for a 10-4 lead. Muldrow led 12-7 after the opening period.
The Lady Ironheads (0-1) would not go away as they cut their deficit to 14-12 with 5:26 left before halftime on a basket by Kambry Williams. However, as it would end up, that would be as close as the Eufaula girls would get.
A basket by Muldrow’s Kennedi Wight with 25 seconds left before halftime put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 23-14 at the break.
The second half saw the Lady Bulldogs pull away as they outscored the Lady Ironheads 15-6 in the third quarter to take a 38-20 lead into the final period.
The Lady Bulldogs built as much as a 21-point lead on three occasions in the fourth quarter, with the last time being at 53-32 with 1:28 left in the game on a basket by Jaydin Dean.
“We told them coming off the (Thanksgiving) break that it would be tough, trying to get those game legs right off the break,” Eufaula girls coach Nicholas Yarbrough said. “We’re still trying to find the right rotation and what works.”
Yarbrough said one game will not make or break the Lady Ironheads’ season.
“I told the girls, it’s the first game of the year,” he said. “We have nothing to hang our heads about. Muldrow is a good team, but it’s just one night. I told them I hope we’re playing in February and into March (playoffs). That’s our goal. We want to win every game, but one game doesn’t define the season. We just have to get better and continue to work. They’re going to work their tails off and get ready for our next game.”
In defeat, Jordas Mc-Clish led Eufaula with nine points.
Muldrow 50, Eufaula 37
The Bulldogs (1-0) led from wire to wire, but the first half was close.
A basket by Teaguen Collins and a 3-point bucket by Jaxson Anstine gave Muldrow a 5-0 lead with 7:20 left in the first quarter.
The Ironheads (0-1) cut their deficit to a single basket twice in the first half of the opening period, the last time coming on a basket by Maddox Bridges with 3:28 remaining in the period to cut Muldrow’s advantage to 7-5.
However, the ’Dogs ended the first quarter by scoring three consecutive free throws — one apiece by Kenoy Releford, Gunner Vanscoy and Collins for a 10-5 lead with 64 seconds left in the period.
Eufaula’s Payden Lanham hit a free throw with 11 seconds remaining in the quarter to cut his team’s deficit to 10-6 after the first period.
The Ironheads cut the Muldrow advantage to two points twice in the first minute of the second quarter, the last time coming with 7:09 remaining in the first half on a basket by Bridges to cut Eufaula’s deficit to 12-10.
However, the Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run, capped by a basket by Parker Sevenstar with 5:16 left before halftime, to put Muldrow ahead 17-10.
Back came the Ironheads as they went on a 7-2 run, capped by Luke Parish’s basket with 2:20 left in the first half, to cut Eufaula’s deficit to 19-17.
A free throw by Drew Prewett with 1:16 remaining before halftime gave Muldrow a 20-17 halftime lead.
Muldrow opened the second half by going on a 5-1 run, capped by another basket by Prewett with 5:50 left in the third quarter, to up Muldrow’s advantage to 25-18.
The Ironheads scored the game’s next three points — a free throw by Keaton Parish and a basket by Jentry James — cut Eufaula’s deficit to 25-21 with 4:27 remaining in the period.
After Eufaula cut its deficit back to two points once more at 29-27 on James’ basket with 2:44 left in the period, Muldrow ended the quarter on a 5-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Deshawn Wilson with 1:27 remaining in the period, to put Muldrow ahead 34-27 going into the fourth quarter.
The final period is where the Bulldogs started to get some separation from the Ironheads as Muldrow built as much as an 18-point lead on two occasions, the last time was at 5032 on a basket by Sevenstar with 2:16 left in the game.
“We just couldn’t hit shots,” Eufaula boys coach Rob McKinzie said. “That was our big problem. I feel like we could be an explosive team, but it never came. We thought defensively, we’d be fine holding them to 20 points in the (first) half. Defensively, we were pretty good, but if you score 37 points in a game, you’re not going to win very many games. I thought we got good looks, but we just didn’t capitalize. It was a rough shooting night. I’m pretty sure we shot about 20 percent on the night.”
McKinzie believes there are better days ahead for the Ironheads.
“I think we’re going to be a better shooting team than that (in Tuesday’s season opener),” he said.
“I think we’ll see that as the season goes along.”