By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
PONCA CITY, Okla. —
The Plainsmen nearly completed their second-largest comeback of the season, but Ponca City’s Robert Nanni scored a layup in the final seconds and Enid’s Deon Parker couldn’t hit a deep three as the buzzer sounded and the Plainsmen lost Friday to the host Wildcats, 59-58.
Down 14 in the third quarter, Enid came back to lead by one with 40 seconds left, but Darnae Banks couldn’t extend the lead, missing the front end of a one-and-one and giving Ponca City a chance to score the game-winner.
With 3.3 seconds left and the Plainsmen down a point, Enid coach Ryan Wilkinson drew up a play with the Plainsmen inbounding from their own basket.
“We didn’t get the ball quite as far down the floor as we wanted,” Wilkinson said. “We just ran (Deon Parker) off a double screen … He probably could have gotten two or three dribbles in before he shot it. He was open when he shot it, but you’re just kind of throwing up a prayer at that point.”
Enid trailed by as much as 43-29 after Ponca City scored five points on a single possession with 4:19 left in the third quarter. Harrison Maud was whistled for an intentional foul against a driving Cole Nimmo, who hit a pair of free throws. When Ponca City was awarded the ball, Nanni hit a three, pushing the Wildcats’ lead to double digits for the first time.
“It was a hard foul,” said Wilkinson, who added he agreed with the call on the floor. “It wasn’t like he was trying to hurt the kid, he was just trying to keep the kid from getting to the basket.”
The Plainsmen answered the virtual five-point play with a 14-4 run to close the third. Aaron Austin scored seven of his team-high 17 in the opening minutes of the fourth to pull to within 53-52.
A pair of Jemarcus Jackson free throws put Enid up for the first time since the Plainsmen led 12-11 after first quarter.
“We talked about the positives,” Wilkinson said. “We did a really good job in the second half with our intensity, and we played really well on defense when we made the comeback.”
Banks put the Plainsmen up 56-53 with two more free throws with just more than three minutes left, but Ponca City scored six of the final eight points to hand Enid (4-9) its ninth loss of the season.
“Probably the biggest thing is we beat them three out of four quarters,” said Wilkinson, whose team was outscored 21-14 in the second. “I’ll give (Ponca City) credit. They shot the ball really well, but this is one coming in we felt like we should have won, and when you’re up by one with 40 seconds left and shooting free throws, you feel like we should win.
“It’s a tough one, but we were all positive when we got to the locker room,” Wilkinson said. “We had a different look in our eyes going in than we’ve had in the past … You could tell our guys were hurting in the locker room. But I think we can turn that into a positive, by telling them if we have that kind of effort, that kind of emotion the entire game, where are you going to be then?”
Parker finished with 10 points and Correll Baker added nine for the Plainsmen, who open play in a three-day Deer Creek Edmond Tournament on Thursday.
PACERS 58, PONCA CITY 40
Four Pacers scored in double figures as Enid rode an early scoring run to romp to a 58-40 win Friday in Ponca City.
Enid trailed 6-2 early, but six straight Ponca City turnovers sparked a 15-0 run to give the No. 10 Pacers a 17-6 lead that never was challenged.
“We did a great job sharing the ball, getting a lot of girls involved,” said Pacers head coach Robb Mills, whose team improved to 11-2 with its ninth win in 10 games.
Courtney Chelf had two clean steals for easy layups on the other end during the opening-frame run. Abby Lee did the same for two of her seven first-quarter points.
Chelf hit a three early in the second quarter to extend the Pacers’ lead to 26-13, and Andi Pierce rebounded a Chelf miss and added another three to put Enid up 33-18 at half.
A 7-2 Ponca City run pulled the Lady Wildcats within 10 in the third quarter, but back-to-back Chelf steals led to a pair of easy baskets and a 45-31 lead.
“We switched to zone defense, and Courtney got out and got some batted balls and some steals, and really got us going,” Mills said. “It could have easily gotten close a few times, but the girls refocused and I give them credit for getting the lead back up there.”
Ponca City, which was playing without starter Madison Peresko and rotation player Leslie Wilson, couldn’t overcome 17 turnovers despite a game-high 18 points from Kendall Dunn.
The win marked Enid’s second road victory in four nights against area rivals. The Pacers beat No. 19 Stillwater 52-44 on Tuesday.
Chelf finished with a team-high 14, Haven Bay scored 13, Lee added 11 and Grace Enmeier finished with 10 for the Pacers, who play next in the three-day Deer Creek Tournament opening Thursday.