The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


December 20, 2013

Pioneer splits with Hennessey

HENNESSEY, Okla. —  It took a bloody nose to stop Blake Gabriel.

The Pioneer senior scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the second half to lead Pioneer to a 65-54 win Friday.

Gabriel poured in 11 in the third quarter, when Pioneer’s 19-18 lead ballooned to 41-26, growing as high as 51-28 in the fourth before a late Hennessey rally.

Only when Gabriel was hit on a drive in the fourth, scoring a layup but getting bloodied after a forearm to the nose in the process, did the senior forward stop scoring.

“I went up to dunk it, and (Brady Fipps) hit me in the nose, and it just started bleeding,” said Gabriel who hit 12 of 18 attempts from the field and apparently is a veteran with beak leaks. “I have bad nose bleeds all the time. I’m known for that.”

Hennessey closed an early 13-5 deficit with five straight points by Fipps, who finished with a team-high 19. Hennessey pulled to within a point at halftime, but a Gabriel basket, two three-point buckets from Brandon McNaughton and a third three from Sage Lamunyon put the Mustangs up 30-20 early in the third. Fipps scored to narrow the margin to eight, and after Pioneer took a 12-point lead, Hennessey’s Gage Kroll hit a three to pull the Eagles within 35-26.

Then Gabriel went to work.

Sneaking to the basket on backdoor cuts as Hennessey defenders stepped up against leading Pioneer scorer Colby Koontz and tried to run Lamunyon and McNaughton off the three-point line, Gabriel scored four straight baskets, sparking a 16-2 run punctuated by a Koontz and-one to give the Mustangs their largest lead at 51-28.

“Colby drew a lot of attention and our guards did a better job of penetrating (in the second half) and getting to me with good passes,” Gabriel said. “They did a really good job setting me up.”

Hennessey pulled to within 60-51 with 1:28 left  on a corner three by Nathan Hatchel, who keyed the rally with eight fourth-quarter points, but a Brandon McNaughton free throw and layup and back-to-back Hennessey turnovers stymied the comeback.

Kroll finished with 14 and Tyrel Cline added six for the Eagles, who fell to 2-2 in their final game before Christmas break. They return to visit Drummond on Jan. 7.

Pioneer enters its own Christmas hiatus with the win, but more importantly having taken a step closer to coach Brandon Gallagher’s expectations.

“Our third quarter was really good,” Gallagher said. “We still have to get to where we can guard somebody man-to-man and get stops … Any good team I’ve ever had would defend you to the end, and we’ve got to get to that mentality where we’re just not gonna let you score.”

Pioneer visits Dover on Jan. 7.

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