By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid fell behind early, but Abby Lee kick started a comeback effort and Courtney Chelf finished the job as the No. 7 Pacers ran away in the second half against 5A No. 13 Guthrie, 55-41, Tuesday at the Mabee Center.
Chelf finished with a game- and season-high 28 points, outdueling Guthrie’s Melinda Murillo, who finished with 21 to pace the Lady Blue Jays.
The Pacers (16-3) opened with four early turnovers, shooting 2-for-7 over the same first-quarter stretch to fall behind, 12-4. But in her first game back after missing the Pacers’ win against Ponca City on Thursday, Lee scored five points, adding a steal and three rebounds in the opening frame to spark a 9-2 run and pull Enid to within 14-13 going into the second.
“I really wanted to play (on Thursday),” Lee said. “I listened to it on the radio. It was sad.”
“Abby played well tonight,” said Pacers head coach Robb Mills. “We were needing that lift offensively … It’s always nice to get everybody back.”
Guthrie (10-10) kept pace with Enid in the second quarter, entering intermission down 26-25 behind Murillo’s eight in the frame. The Guthrie senior also put both Lee (3) and Chelf (2) in foul trouble in the first half, forcing Mills to give sophomore Haven Bay the defensive assignment in the second half.
Bay held Murillo to one-for-eight shooting in the third and fourth quarters, including seven straight misses, and without her production, Guthrie’s offense was limited to just 16 second-half points.
“We ran different people at her, but primarily in the second half Haven Bay guarded her and did an excellent job,” Mills said. “Kudos to her. She did what we asked her to do, and I know when you’re spending that much energy on defense, sometimes it’s tougher on the offensive end, but she helped our team win tonight, and that was big.”
“Courtney had fouls, and so did Abby Lee,” said Bay, who had two points and a steal. “(Mills) told me to get on her, and make sure she didn’t get a shot off, or if she gives it up, she doesn’t get it back.”
Chelf had three of her game-high four steals in three possessions in the third, scoring 10 in the frame to push the Pacer lead to 42-34 going into the fourth, and the lead was never challenged.
Lee scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and Grace Enmeier finished with six points and five boards for Enid, which improved to 6-0 on its home floor and 7-3 against top-20 teams.
The Pacers host Stillwater in their final home game of the season at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
GUTHRIE 55, ENID 44 (B)
Enid sought a season-best fourth consecutive win and its first regular-season sweep of an opponent Tuesday against Guthrie.
The Plainsmen got neither.
Enid (7-12) lost for the first time in four games, falling behind early and failing to close late to lose, 55-44.
Guthrie (6-14) took a 14-0 lead to open the game, feasting on six straight Enid misses and four turnovers in the first quarter. The Blue Jays hit five of their first six shots.
“The beginning of the game kind of sets the intensity,” said Enid coach Ryan Wilkinson. “You let teams get going, and they get confident and they play different. You establish things defensively, and you make it hard to score, and they lose that confidence. We gave them all the confidence in the world to start the game, and it’s hard to come back from that.”
The Plainsmen’s first basket, a Jemarcus Jackson jumper, came more than five minutes in. Deon Parker hit a deep three on the Plainsmen’s next possession, but Enid trailed 19-7 after Guthrie shot five-for-seven from the field and eight-for-nine from the free throw line in the opening frame.
Correll Baker scored six of his team-high nine in the second quarter, adding four rebounds and a steal that led to a bucket that pulled Enid within 21-15. The Plainsmen outscored Guthrie 18-10 in the second to enter halftime down 29-25.
A pair of Baker free throws with 2:35 remaining gave the Plainsmen their first lead, but Guthrie answered with a 7-2 run and never trailed again.
“They relaxed,” Wilkinson said. “They took a breath and relaxed and thought that they’d weathered the storm. But a team like that, when they get going, they’re going to play hard, and they’re always going to keep the pressure up. We relaxed, and they didn’t, so they went on a run. Can’t do that against teams that play with that much intensity and that much effort.”
Raeshaan Finley hit a three in the fourth to close the gap to 33-32, but the Blue Jays answered with 9-3 run. Darnae Banks missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 2:00 remaining with Enid down 48-42, and Guthrie scored the next five to go up 53-42 and all but seal the Plainsmen’s 12th loss.
“We’re going to bounce back,” said junior Aaron Austin, who had six and tied for team-high honors in steals with two. “We’re going to take it a day at a time in practice. That’s what what we’re focused on now, and it will go into the game against Stillwater.”
Banks scored six points and finished with five rebounds, and Jackson added four points and a team-high seven rebounds for Enid.