The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 25, 2014

Pioneer boys, PC-H girls take Skeltur crowns

ENID, Okla. — Pioneer boys coach Brandon Gallagher begged 6-foot-9 junior Colby Koontz to assert himself for three quarters.

In the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Skeltur Conference Tournament final, Gallagher got what he wanted.

Koontz piled up 10 of his 14 points, and six of his game-high 18 rebounds, in the final frame as Pioneer pulled away late to beat Class A No. 7 Drummond 56-41 for its seventh Skeltur Tournament crown since 2004.

“I finally wised up and used my height and my body to my advantage tonight,” said Koontz, who also had a game-best six assists. “I think I’ve learned my lesson.”

The top-seeded Mustangs (10-5) led 35-30 entering the fourth, but had squandered a first-half double-digit lead with Drummond (16-3) rallying to within 31-28 late in the third when Bulldog senior Brady Kokojan snatched a rebound and streaked coast-to-coast through Pioneer defenders for an easy lay-in.

Koontz, who entered the last quarter of the Skeltur Tournament 2-for-8 from the floor, hit two quick baskets to open the fourth, then passed out of a double team to a back-cutting Blake Gabriel for another basket, completing a 10-2 run after Kokojan’s layup, giving Pioneer its largest lead to that point at 41-30 with 6:31 remaining.

Drummond narrowed the margin to 41-35, but Koontz added another score on a turnaround bank shot from the post, then rebounded a missed Sage Lamunyon three and scored again, bumping the lead back to double digits at 45-35 with five minutes left.

After a Brandon McNaughton runner, Drummond’s Logan Jantz hit a three to knock the Bulldog deficit down to 47-38. Then the floodgates opened in earnest.

Gabriel split a pair of free throws, then fed a Lamunyon steal to Koontz for a basket, scoring himself off a McNaughton assist on Pioneer’s next trip. McNaughton stole a Parker Jankey dribble on the ensuing possession, feeding Kade Cronkhite for an easy score to cap a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 56-38.

Kokojan led only three Drummond scorers with 17 points, adding a team-high eight rebounds. Logan Jantz scored 15 points and Jankey finished with nine for the Bulldogs, who were denied their first Skeltur title since 1995.

Drummond looked the part of the bracket’s highest-ranked team for much of the contest, but couldn’t finish when left open, shooting 16-50 (32 percent) and just 1-for-19 from three.

The Bulldogs fell behind 20-10 early, but quickly fought back to within 22-19 on a run capped by a Jankey basket.

“I want to win,” said Drummond coach Curtis Foster. “But I’m in no way or form disappointed with the way my guys hustled and played tonight. We just didn’t have a few shots go down. It just happened to be one of those nights, but we live to play again the next night, and things will get better for us.”

Drummond senior Scott Rodenberg started the game, but left in the first quarter with a left knee injury.

Pioneer finished 26-for-49 (53 percent) on the night, including a scorching 15-of-26 (58 percent) in the second half. Gabriel finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting, Cronkhite had 11 points and McNaughton tallied 10 points and four steals, rounding out four Pioneer players in double figures.

The win avenged a 50-47 loss to the Bulldogs from Jan. 17, and was the Mustangs’ third straight since losing three of four, and their spot in 2A’s top-20.

“We really needed it,” Gabriel said. “We got to where we started doubting ourselves a little bit, and this kind of gets us back on the right track. Drummond’s a really good team. We haven’t beaten a lot of great teams this year, and they’re a really good team. We’re just happy to get a win against them.”

Pioneer hosts Class A No. 19 Cimarron — the Skeltur Tournament’s fourth-place finisher — on Tuesday. Drummond hosts Waukomis on Tuesday.

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