The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 27, 2013

Garber holds off Pioneer for Skeltur boys crown

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Jeremy Newton hit a layup to give Garber a late lead, Pioneer’s Nicholas Denker missed a likely game-winning three just before the buzzer, and the third-seeded Wolverines dethroned two-time defending Skeltur Conference Tournament champion Pioneer 53-51 Saturday at the Mabee Center.

Tied at 41-41 late in the third quarter, Garber and Pioneer traded 8-0 runs to deadlock again 49-49, before Newton scored inside to put Garber ahead 51-49. Denker stole a Garber pass to earn free throws, splitting two pairs on consecutive trips to even the score at 51 with 40.4 seconds remaining in the game.

Coming out of a timeout, a miscommunication on defense left Newton alone under Pioneer’s basket, and Dallas Hunt fed the 6-foot-8 senior for an easy layup to put Garber up 53-51 with 26 seconds left.

“I was pretty stunned,” Hunt said. “I got pretty excited when I saw him there. I just had to get him the ball quick.”

“I was in shock,” Newton said. “I just got the ball and, I don’t know, I made the shot.”

After a Pioneer timeout with 14 seconds remaining, Blake Gabriel found Denker — who already had hit four threes in the game — wide open on the right wing as Garber’s defense collapsed on Colby Koontz. Denker put up a shot with four seconds left, but the potential game-winner just rimmed out.

“It looked good, it felt good,” said Denker, who scored 14 points. “It just didn’t go down.”

“I thought it was going in,” said Pioneer coach Brandon Gallagher. “It looked like it was. It definitely had a chance.”

“I said, ‘Koontz or Denker, those two we’ve got to find,’” said Garber coach Marc Hatton. “And I look out there and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ We got lucky it didn’t go in. He’s (Denker) an awful good three-point shooter. He’s the last one I wanted shooting a wide-open three.”

Koontz intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass well past half court, and appeared to have been pulled down attempting a last-second heave with 0.7 seconds left, but no foul was called, and Garber won its first Skeltur title since 2010, but its fourth since 2008.

“I don’t know (if Koontz was fouled),” Gallagher said. “That’s begging. We had opportunities. We gave up a really easy bucket because we didn’t communicate well … it’s a fine line. You miss a free throw here, a free throw there, and I know we missed some down the stretch, and those kind of things add up. It’s a fine line between winning and losing.”

Before hitting the game-winning shot, Newton spent much of the night battling Koontz, his fellow 6-foot-8 center. Koontz finished with a game-high 20 points.

“It was a good matchup to play someone my size, get physical with him,” Newton said.

Since 2004, only Pioneer (6) and Garber (4) have won the Skeltur championship. Cimarron topped the field in 2002 and 2003. Pioneer also won back-to-back titles in 1997-98 and 2000-01, and Garber won in 1999.

“I feel great for these seniors,” Hatton said. “These guys won state when they were freshmen and weren’t playing, they won Skeltur, all that stuff when they were freshmen ... for them, this is a first. It’s their team now.”

Hunt and Newton led Garber (15-4, unranked in Class A) with 13 points apiece, and Logan Vandiver scored 10 for the Wolverines, who visit Pond Creek Hunter on Tuesday. Pioneer (7-10, unranked in Class 2A) returns to the court Tuesday at Cimarron



Drummond junior Parker Jankey rebounded his own missed floater in time to put up one more shot and sank it — and Pond Creek-Hunter — as the final buzzer sounded, beating the second-seed Panthers 53-51 for third place.

Jankey finished with 15 and Brady Kokojan had a game-high 17 for top seed Drummond (19-3, No. 13 in Class A), which was upset in the semifinals by fourth-seeded defending champion Pioneer on Friday. PC-Hunter (16-5, No. 10 in Class A), which suffered its own upset in a semifinal loss to three-seed Garber, got 13 points from T.J. Krittenbrink and nine from Brady Krittenbrink.



 Cimarron sophomore Logan Watkins wrapped a sensational Skeltur run with a game-high 37 points and the fifth-seeded Trailblazers won a bizarre consolation final against No. 6 seed Covington-Douglas, 68-48.

Watkins scored 37 for the second straight game, averaging 29.3 over three rounds to lead the Trailblazers (12-10), who pushed a four-point third quarter lead to 20 in the final 10 minutes.

Apparently in protest of a lopsided foul count — the Wildcats were whistled for 30 fouls including an intentional and a technical to Cimarron’s 12, and shot 11 free throws to Cimarron’s 43 — Covington-Douglas (8-12) allowed Cimarron to hold the ball for the final 2:30 of the heated contest.