A dramatic rally came up just short for the Durant Lions Friday night as they dropped a 54-49 decision to rival McAlester at the DHS Gymnasium.
In the girls contest the Lady Lions dug an early hole and were unable to recover while suffering a 42-24 defeat.
Durant will be back on the road Tuesday visiting Ada and then begin play in the tough John Nobles Invitational at Moore beginning Thursday.
McAlester shot a woeful 17 percent on four of 23 shooting in the opening quarter but the Lady Lions were not able to take advantage thanks largely to nine turnovers in the first stanza.
The Lady Buffs had a 10-2 advantage before a Tristyn Hamilton trey in the waning seconds cut the margin to just five.
A 7-0 burst by the visitors quickly expanded the margin to double figures early in the second frame before Durant closed within 19-13 at intermission following Alli Keel and Karli Westmoreland three-pointers sandwiched around a Westmoreland bucket.
McAlester found its touch in the third period, outscoring the Lady Lions 15-2 to take complete command as the only DHS points came on a Landri Sims basket nearly six minutes into the second half.
Hamilton nailed back-to-back field goals in the opening moments of the fourth to stop the bleeding, but only briefly as the Lady Buffs reeled off six straight to push the lead to 20 and cruised the rest of the way.
The Lady Lions were paced by Hamilton’s nine points in the contest. Westmoreland contributed five, Keel chipped in three with Annalee Jones, Sims and Brooklyn Pilgreen each tossing in two and Chelsie Wilmoth adding one point.
The Lions got off to an ice cold shooting start, hitting only two of their first nine field goal attempts as McAlester built as much as a seven-point first period advantage.
A driving basket by Daniel Long and Drake Cates’ trey in the final 1:18 narrowed the gap to 14-9 at the end of one stanza.
Sophomore Bryson Lyday scored three straight points for Durant to start the second before the Buffs erupted with seven consecutive to expand that advantage to 21-12 before DHS head coach Aaron George took a timeout.
The Lions responded however using a balanced attack to score 11 of the next 15 points, including a free throw by Lyday that knotted the score at 25 with just 23 seconds remaining.
McAlester standout Zach Lerblance sank three charity tosses with less than a second to go in the half to put the visitors up 28-25 at the break.
Durant got off to disastrous start in the third period with three straight turnovers and five on its first six possessions, aiding the Buffaloes push the advantage to 33-25 before a Tyler Hamblin basket with 4:43 left in the period.
The hosts rallied to cut the deficit to just two at the end of the stanza after field goals from Long and Brady Nichols in the closing minute.
A Cates trey and Long bucket early in the fourth got Durant within 41-40 but the Buffs immediately pushed the margin to five (49-44) before one final Lion charge.
Nichols drilled a three-pointer at the 1:12 mark and Cates sent the home crowd into a frenzy with a tying layin at the 56-second mark after a wild scramble for the ball.
Missed free throws by McAlester left the door open in the waning seconds but the Lions misfired three times with an opportunity to tie the game.
Cates totaled 18 points to spark the Lion offensive charge as Nichols also reached double figures with 11. Long chipped in eight, Lyday scored six, Hamblin had five and Zyarius Clark notched a point.