Enid News and Eagle
LAWTON, Okla. —
The Pacers’ win at 10th-ranked Lawton Eisenhower was one for the record books.
Haven Bay scored a game-high 14 points and sophomore Andi Pierce followed an uneventful start with a game-clinching rebound and putback to seal a 45-41 win, setting a Pacers record with their10th-consecutive victory Friday.
Pierce finished with eight points and turned what could have been a crucial mistake into a clutch basket with just under seven seconds left. Pierce — a near 90-percent free-throw shooter — had two free throws that would have put the Pacers up 44-41, if she’d hit both, but Enid’s leading scorer missed the second.
Eisenhower’s Crystal Polk snagged the rebound, but with the Lady Eagle center’s teammates streaking down the floor already, Pierce stole the ball before Polk could make an outlet pass, scoring through a Polk foul to push Enid’s lead to a decisive four points with 6.8 seconds left.
“She doesn’t miss a lot of free throws,” said Enid head coach Robb Mills. “They had to get back to the other end … there was just her and one other girl. Just a heads-up play. That sealed the game.”
Pierce’s play was the last in a series that kept Enid ahead in the closing minutes after leading comfortably through much of the first half.
The No. 15 Pacers (18-5) started fast, especially Bay, who hit two threes to open the game as Enid jumped out to a 9-2 lead. They led by as much as 14 and held a 23-12 advantage at halftime, but didn’t score until almost six minutes into the third quarter as Eisenhower took its first lead, 24-23, on a three by Kennedi Simien.
Enid quickly regained the lead, and after Eisenhower (16-4) rallied again in the fourth to tie the game at 34, Kylie Vestal completed a three-point play to give the Pacers a 37-34 lead and Bay hit a pull-up jumper and three foul shots to hold off one more Ike charge.
“We were shooting the ball so well, but I knew from experience you don’t always shoot that well the rest of the game,” Mills said.
“We called timeout just to settle us down. We knew they would be swinging back in the third quarter.”
Enid will take its program-best run into an elimination game in the Pacers’ Feb. 27 playoff opener against No. 14 Edmond Memorial at Broken Arrow.
“We had a little talk, me and some of the seniors and team leaders, that we wanted to surge into the playoffs,” Mills said. “They bought into it. I give (all the credit) to them.”
Eighth-ranked Ike routs Plainsmen
Braden Rogers scored 15 points and Devon Edwards added 12, but Enid couldn’t keep pace with hot-shooting Eisenhower, losing its ninth straight, 75-54.
Enid whittled a double-digit deficit to 32-23 by halftime, but the No. 8 Eagles dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Plainsmen 24-8 to all but clinch the game, and Enid’s worst season since 1997-98, which finished at 2-21, where Enid is now. As the Plainsmen tried to force turnovers and rally in the second half, Eisenhower (17-4) broke presses and rarely missed chances to increase the lead, finishing the night with eight three-pointers.
“We just couldn’t score in the start of the second half,” said Enid head coach Ryan Wilkinson. “We were just stagnant. You give up 24 in a quarter and that’s tough to come back from.”
The loss wraps a regular season that started with 10 consecutive losses and has developed into a frustrating year that can be quickly turned into a surprise success story if the Plainsmen can beat third-ranked Union in the teams’ elimination playoff opener Feb. 28 at Union.
“We’ll just keep doing what we do,” Wilkinson said. “We’ll have to have a night where a couple guys are shooting the ball well offensively.”