Chargers start strong, earn victory over Eagles

Staff Writer

With a big, lively crowd getting louder by the basket, Choctaw County could do no wrong in the early going against rival Eupora on Tuesday night.

The Chargers couldn’t have asked for more.

In no time, the Chargers took a 19-4 lead over Eupora, and though the Eagles showed plenty of fight as the game wore on, Choctaw County ultimately claimed a 74-57 win in Ackerman.

“We came out and executed on all cylinders for the first 8 to 10 minutes,” Choctaw County head coach Gary Beals said. “We executed every play and made every shot out of every execution.”

The Chargers (6-2) used another big performance from standout Akeem Kirkwood to hold off the Eagles (3-2). Kirkwood scored 30 points and was a thorn in Eupora’s side all night long.

“He’s the man,” Eupora head coach Danya Turner said of Kirkwood. “He can handle the ball and he just does a great job.”

About the only thing Kirkwood didn’t do right on Tuesday was find foul trouble. Kirkwood picked up a pair of first-half fouls and Beals elected to put his cornerstone on the bench.

Eupora took advantage. The Eagles rallied in the second quarter and outscored the Chargers 21-17 in the period. By halftime, Choctaw County’s once-sizable lead had been cut to 37-30.

Eupora’s comeback attempt illustrated a problem for the Chargers that Beals said has to be fixed.

“We have to learn to play without Akeem Kirkwood on the floor,” Beals said. “I have to have some other guys step up.”

Beals saw signs that his wish was being granted in the second half. Steven Triplett, who finished with 14 points for the Chargers, scored 10 of those after halftime. Logan Murphy and Jeremy Miller also each had a solid second half as they combined for 12 points over the course of the third and fourth quarter. Miller finished with 12 total points in the game. Murphy had 10.

With Triplett, Miller and Murphy aiding Kirkwood’s cause, Eupora couldn’t find a way to get over the hump in the second half.

“We couldn’t make shots (Tuesday night),” Turner said. “We’ve been making shots the last couple of weeks and (Tuesday night) we couldn’t make them. We played extremely hard. I’m proud of that, but we were missing shots that we’ve normally been making. You have to make shots. The kids played hard though. That’s all you can ask for."

Eupora had three players score in double figures in the defeat. Jarren Patterson scored 16 points. Cameron Culpepper added 13 and Makaylon Patterson scored 11.

Yet it wasn’t enough to overcome the Chargers and particularly Kirkwood.

“He’s special,” Beals said of Kirkwood. “He’s a great player. He may be one of the most talented players and athletes to come through this county.”

Girls Game
Choctaw County 45,
Eupora 19

A strangling defense led to a fast start and an easy win for Choctaw County.

“We set the tone on the defensive end, then we started scoring,” Lady Chargers head coach Cory Guyton said. “We just have to continue to work on offense and keep our offense running. Hopefully we can get a little smoother and into a flow (on offense), but I was really pleased with our defense.”

Choctaw County improved to 6-3 with the win. Eupora fell to 3-3.

“We were out-matched,” Turner, who also coaches the Lady Eagles, said. “Our kids played hard. We just had David versus Goliath and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Lakyshia Mitchell led Choctaw County with 15 points. LaGenesis Johnson scored 14.

Mitchell scored nine of her points in the first quarter as the Lady Chargers jumped out to a 19-4 lead after one period. Choctaw County rolled from there.

Eupora’s leading scorer was Kyla Patterson with eight points.