By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Randy Turney was a little emotional after his Burlington Elks reached the state tournament for the third straight year after a 56-38 win over Mulhall-Orlando in the Class B Area III consolation bracket finals Wednesday at Chisholm Trail Expo Center Coliseum.
Turney was thinking of his daughter, Tasha, whose Pond Creek-Hunter Lady Panthers had qualified for the Class A state tournament on Saturday.
“I’m speechless,’’ Turney said. “I wanted her to go so badly ... I wanted us to go for our kids, but I could care less about myself. What she went through last year (two losses at area) and Jade (leading scorer Jones) getting hurt, it’s just an honor to see them there.’’
“God is good,’’ said Turney’s wife, Robyn about the family reunion at state.
The Elks (23-7) play Arnett at 3:30 p.m. today in a first-round game at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
“This is unbelievable,’’ Turney said about the Elks, who suited up only seven players. “We could have made excuses for having only seven players, but they never did.
“This team has played together better than any team that I have ever had. I have two of the best senior leaders ever since I’ve been coaching. They’re not the greatest ballplayers, but you can’t find any two kids with better character or leadership qualities than Brandon Gosselin and Lane Newlin. They have been the cornerstones of our team all year.’’
Burlington raced out to a 13-0 lead as the Panthers (23-7) missed their first eight shots from the field. The Elks were adept at attacking the basket.
“That was our game plan,’’ said Carter Stewart, who led Burlington with 16 points. “We went out there and played hard and executed and did what coach told us to.’’
The quick start “made us relax and made them play catch up,’’ Turney said.
“Our seniors and Carter Stewart have been playing big games like this for four years,’’ Turney said. “That helps. Once you throw the ball up, you just have to do your job and you can’t worry about nerves.’’
Stewart was joined in double figures by Gosselin with 14, Kyle Ellerbeck with 13 and Newlin with 12.
“They weren’t real big so I told them we needed to take the ball to the basket,’’ Turney said. “I told them that we weren’t shooting any outside shots and to take everything to the rim and shoot everything in the lane which we did a good job of.’’
The Panthers got to within four points twice (15-11 and 17-13). Burlington put the game away with a 9-0 run to take a 33-17 lead after a free throw by Gosselin with 1:54 left in the half.
“We came together as a team and worked hard in practice,’’ Stewart said. “We took every game one at a time and we took it from there. It’s awesome to go three years in a row.’’