By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Garber trailed for the first 26 minutes in the Skeltur Conference Tournament’s boys championship semifinal against No. 10 Pond Creek-Hunter Friday at the Mabee Center, trailing by as much as 10 along the way.
But when Jordan Avants rebounded his own miss to earn a pair of free throws and give the Wolverines their first chance to lead with 5:56 left, he hit both to put Garber up 49-47, and his team didn’t trail again, completing a furious second-half rally, 68-56.
Avants scored 14 of his game-high 19 in the final two quarters as Garber chipped away at the Panthers’ lead and Eric Killman led all scorers in the fourth with eight of his 12, providing the largest portion of a decisive 25-11 Garber advantage in the final frame.
“We didn’t shoot the best in the first half, and we did have jitters, but once we got that lead, we got confident, we got our swag back,” Avants said. “It was all good.”
“We had to have that,” said Garber coach Marc Hatton. “(PC-Hunter’s) an awfully good ballclub, a really good ballclub. If Jordan didn’t step up, we’d have been in trouble.”
Following Avants’ free throws, Johnathon Bowlin completed a three-point play after finishing through contact to push Garber’s lead to 52-47, and with 1:20 remaining, Killman hit his second of two fourth-quarter threes, pounding his chest after giving the Wolverines a 62-53 lead, and all but sealing the comeback win.
“You never know,” Killman said. “Teams can get up in your face and get a couple of turnovers and you can kind of lose yourself, but I felt pretty confident (after hitting the second three).”
Brady Krittenbrink and Mac Styles scored 12 apiece to lead PC-Hunter, but the Panthers missed 13 of their 21 free throws in the second half to assist the Garber comeback.
“We have to become better free throw shooters,” said PC-Hunter coach Darin Jones. “We’ve lost four basketball games this season, and every game that we’ve lost, I can go to the scorebook and we’ve missed enough free throws to have won all those games.”
The same was true Friday, when the Panthers shot just 47 percent from the line, missing 18 free throws in a 12-point loss that they once led 21-11.
Third-seeded Garber started slow against the No. 2 seed Panthers, missing its first five shots and turning the ball over four times before Avants hit a free throw almost halfway through the first quarter to tally his team’s first point. The Wolverines had seven turnovers in the first quarter and 12 in the first half to enter the third quarter down 33-25.
Garber had just five giveaways in the second half, and Avants scored seven straight Garber points that were bookended by two Logan Vandiver threes in the third as the Wolverines closed to within 45-43 entering the fourth.
“I was worried that we were going to get down too far, but we kind of hung in there and chipped away,” Hatton said. “We cut it down to four, and six, and it ended up eight, but the second half, we just came out and took care of business.”
Garber (14-4, unranked in Class A) advances to play fourth-seeded defending tournament champion Pioneer in the boys championship at 7:30 p.m. Pioneer beat Drummond 41-25 in the other semifinal matchup on Friday.
PC-Hunter (16-4, N0. 10 in Class A) will play Drummond in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.
Garber and Pond Creek-Hunter advanced to girls finals, which will tip off at 6.
The Lady Wolverines beat Waukomis 61-57. The Lady Panthers downed Pioneer, 49-34.
POND CREEK-HUNTER 49,
PIONEER 34 (G)
The defending champion Lady Panthers punched their ticket to the girls final with a 49-34 victory over Pioneer in a girls semifinal. Pond Creek-Hunter broke open a tight contest in the second-half, outscoring the Lady Mustangs 26-14. Pond Creek-Hunter’s Jade Jones had a game-high 22 points. Bayli Koontz led Pioneer with 18 points.
PIONEER 41, DRUMMOND 25 (B)
Defending boys champion Pioneer led from start to finish, dominating Drummond in a 41-25 victory in the semifinals. Drummond did not record double digits in any quarter. Pioneer was led by Blake Gabriel’s 19 points. Brady Kokojan topped Drummond with seven points.
GARBER 61, WAUKOMIS 57 (G)
Waukomis’ Alexa Harris scored a team-best 28, but Garber seniors Madeline Leathers (21) and Megan Terry (15) combined for 36 as the Lady Wolverines held off a fourth-quarter rally to secure a championship berth, 61-57.
CIMARRON 50 (G)
Drummond used a 25-10 fourth-quarter spurt to reach the girls consolation finals. Tristan Armour had 17 for the Lady Bulldogs, while McKenna Morrison had 14. Caitlin Theilen had 22 for Cimarron.
COV-DOUGLAS 31 (G)
Jensen Smilie (13) and Tracy Rios (10) combined for 23 points as Dover bounced back from Thursday’s first-round loss to Pioneer. Jessi Parsons had 14 for the Lady Wildcats, while Hailey Kaiser had 10.
WAUKOMIS 54 (B)
Quenten Thayer had 22 points and Gage Smith 11 as the Wildcats avenged an earlier 51-50 loss to the Chiefs. Covington-Douglas used a 17-13 fourth-quarter spurt for the winning margin. Justus Crites had 21 for Waukomis.
CIMARRON 78, DOVER 63 (B)
The Blazers lived up to their nickname with a scorching offensive show as Cimarron defated Dover 78-63. Cimarron scored 28 points in the opening period and never looked in coasting to the victory. Logan Watkings lit up Dover for 37 points, while Mason Seelke added 16 and Chris Tydings had 12. D’vante Randle had 25 points for Dover.
Drummond 54, Cimarron 50
Dover 40, Covington-Douglas 31
Garber 61, Waukomis 57
Pond Creek-Hunter 49, Pioneer 34
Covington-Douglas 57, Waukomis 54
Cimarron 78. Dover 63
Garber 68, Pond Creek-Hunter 56
Pioneer 41, Drummond 25
Noon — Dover vs. Drummond
3 —Waukomis vs. Pioneer
6 — Garber vs. Pond Creek-Hunter
1:30 — Covington-Douglas vs. Cimarron
4:30 — Drummond vs. Pond Creek-Hunter
7:30 — Pioneer vs. Garber