By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Well off the pace of last season’s success, the fourth-seeded Pioneer boys basketball team is nonetheless one step closer to snaring its third straight Skeltur Conference Tournament title, beating four seed Cimarron 61-44 in Thursday’s opening round at the Mabee Center.
The Mustangs (6-9) finished with 14 steals, seven of them in the first quarter to take a 14-4 lead into the second. Cimarron (10-10) pulled within 19-11, but Sage Lamunyon and Brandon McNaughton hit back-to-back threes and Blake Gabriel hit a turnaround jumper to give Pioneer a 27-13 lead.
Pioneer’s lead wasn’t challenged again until Cimarron opened the second half with a 13-4 run, capped by a Taylor Hurst layup that cut the Mustangs’ advantage to 36-28, but McNaughton hit another three, Lamunyon and Nicholas Denker each finished layups to key a 10-2 run that put Pioneer up 46-30, enough to keep Cimarron, which finished with 17 turnovers, at bay.
“We try to be really active,” said Lamunyon, who had three steals and scored 11 points. “Defense is probably our better thing, and the more steals we get, it just brings the intensity up for us.”
Colby Koontz started slow, hitting just two of his first seven hit attempts from the field and leaving with two fouls seven minutes into the first quarter. But the 6-foot-8 sophomore hit five of his next eight to lead five Mustangs in double figures with 15 points, adding six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
“We started off the year a little slow, but as the year’s progressed, we’ve gotten a lot better,” said Koontz, who played regularly for last year’s 27-3 Skeltur champion team that graduated all five starters at season’s end.
Logan Watkins finished with a team-high 14 points for Cimarron, which plays Dover at 3 p.m. Friday.
Gabriel scored 13 for Pioneer, but gave his team and coach a scare with 1:33 left in the second quarter. The junior forward took an outlet pass from Lamunyon and had a clear lane to the basket, but his knee appeared to buckle when he lifted off for what would have been an easy finish.
“I went to the side, and I was going to try and dunk it, and when I tried to go left, it just gave out,” said Gabriel, who was told the injury was relatively minor. “That’s when it hurt, when I tried to jump.”
Gabriel returned to start the third quarter and should be available to play in a knee brace in Pioneer’s championship semifinal game at 8:20 tonight against top seeded Drummond, which on Thursday beat eighth seed Dover 71-51 behind Greg Kokojan’s 26.
Pioneer handed Drummond (18-2, ranked 13th in Class A) its first loss of the season on Jan. 4, beating the Bulldogs, who were 13-0 entering the game, 64-54 in Drummond.
“If there’s any pressure on someone, it’s probably on Drummond,” said Pioneer coach Brandon Gallagher. “They’re the one seed, and (they) haven’t won a tournament like this in a long time. I don’t think anybody’s really expecting a whole lot out of us.”
In other Sketur contests:
PIONEER 50, DOVER 35 (G)
Shelby Flavell scored 14 of her game-high 17 points as the Lady Mustangs raced out to a 31-9 halftime lead and never looked back. Nicole Johnson had 14 for the Lady Longhorns.
DRUMMOND 71, DOVER 51 (B)
Greg Kokojan had 26 points and Zack Wilson (13) and Cody Welch (10) combined for 23 points as the Bulldogs raised their record to 17-2. D’vante Randle had 18 for Dover, including four three-pointers.
PC-HUNTER 72, C-DOUG 11 (G)
The Lady Panthers had three players in double figures — Jade Jones (17), KaLanne McKee (14) and Carson Ferguson (13) in raising their record to 16-3. Pond Creek-Hunter held the Lady Wildcats scoreless for the first 10:30 of the game.
GARBER 70, DRUMM. 23 (G)
Megan Terry scored a season-high 28 points as the Lady Wolverines (14-3) won their 11th straight game. It was the seventh-straight loss for the Lady Bulldogs.
WAUKOMIS 78, CIM. 48 (G)
Waukomis opened its Skeltur Tournament opener on a 16-2 run, and rarely was challenged, beating Cimarron 78-48 to earn a 4:20 p.m. rematch of last season’s Skeltur semifinal against Garber. Sadie Perry led four Lady Chiefs in double figures with 19 points.
GARBER 71, COV-DOUG 48 (B)
Eric Killman scored 20 of his game-high 22 in the first half, and the resulting lead was enough to keep Covington-Douglas at bay late and hold off Quenten Thayer, who scored 20 for the Wildcats.
PC-H 83, WAUKOMIS 32 (B)
Mac Styles scored 15 to lead six Pond Creek-Hunter boys who scored at least eight, and the Panthers punched their semifinal ticket with an 83-32 win against Waukomis.
PC-Hunter 72, Covington-Douglas 11
Pioneer 50, Dover 35
Garber 70, Drummond 23
Waukomis 78, Cimarron 48
Drummond 71, Dover 51
Pioneer 61, Cimarron 44
Garber 71, Covington-Douglas 48
PC-Hunter 83, Waukomis 32
11 a.m. — Drummond vs. Cimarron
1:40 — Cov-Doug vs. Dover
4:20 — Garber vs. Waukomis
7 — PC-Hunter vs. Pioneer
12:20 — Cov-Doug vs. Waukomis
3 — Dover vs. Cimarron
5:40 — PC-Hunter vs. Garber
8:20 — Drummond vs. Pioneer