Enid News and Eagle
The Enid Pacers could not have picked a worse time for their longest losing streak of the season.
For the second straight year, the No. 7 Pacers (17-6) ended their season with a first-round loss in the 6A regional playoffs, falling 63-53 to No. 20 Mustang (11-12) Friday at Tulsa Washington High School. It also was Enid’s third straight loss to close the season.
The Pacers were forced to play from behind all night as the Lady Broncos jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the contest and never trailed, sprinting out to a 17-6 lead after the first period.
“We came out with a lot of intensity, neither team was able to score early,” said Pacers head coach Robb Mills. “Their defense bothered us, we got behind and we never recovered.”
The loss overshadowed another big night from Enid senior Courtney Chelf, who ends her spectacular high school career with a game-high 25 points, which included four three-pointers on the night.
“Courtney rose to the occasion like she always does,” Mills said. “They were manning her pretty heavy all night, but she knocked down some deep threes. She kept encouraging us and kept us going. It’s been a blast coaching her, and we’re sure going to miss her.”
But Chelf’s effort Friday night was not enough as the Pacers had trouble containing Mustang, which had several open looks in the contest.
“They (Mustang) have two big girls and when their guards are hitting threes it makes it tough,” Mills said. “That was the best I have seen them shoot all year. Give them credit for shooting that well. We also missed a bunch of layups.”
Enid trailed 34-25 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 15 points at 42-27 before closing the third period on a 10-0 run to close the gap to 42-37, but the Pacers never were able to draw closer.
“We did fight back to get to within five,” Mills said. “We felt good at that point, but I don’t know, maybe it was a matter of expending too much energy trying to come back.”
Mustang closed the game out with a strong run at the free throw line as Enid was forced to foul in the latter stages.
“We’re disappointed,” Mills said. “We wanted to advance and our goal was to hopefully win the regional. Obviously, we wanted to go further, but we hit a rough patch at the end of the season.”
Pacers’ junior Abby Lee joined Chelf in double-digit scoring with 12 points, Haven Bay had eight points and Grace Enmeier had seven on the night.
The Lady Broncos were led in scoring by Mallory Brothers’ 23 points, Taylor Stewart had 16 points and Mallory Brothers’ twin sister, Kendall Brothers, added eight points.
“We had a really good season even though it ended bitterly,” Mills said. “The team was upset, but we had a good year. Our losses, other than maybe the loss to El Reno, were to some very solid teams.
“We graduate two seniors and obviously Courtney is a huge senior to lose, but we’re looking forward to our future and we want to reach our goal of getting past the first round.”
BROKEN ARROW 71, ENID 50 (B)
BARTLESVILLE — The Plainsmen also saw their season come to a close Friday night, losing 71-50 to No. 6 Broken Arrow in Bartlesville in an opening round 6A regional game.
The Plainsmen fell behind early at 8-0 and never recovered, trailing by sixteen points at the end of the first quarter, 24-8.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or what,” said Plainsmen head coach Ryan Wilkinson. “We came out lethargic on defense and played tight. We gave up too many wide open layups, and it was due to a lack of not getting back on defense.
“We talked about being patient and what we needed to do on the defensive end, but maybe the moment was a little to big for them.”
The Tigers (16-6) never were seriously challenged the rest of the way and coasted to the 21-point victory.
“I was a little disappointed in our effort,” Wilkinson said. “We did pick it up later, but we just got ourselves in too big of a hole. (Broken Arrow) is just too good to give them easy baskets, and they know how to close out a game.”
The Plainsmen were led in scoring by juniors Aaron Austin with 16 points, Michael Majors added 10 and Randy Porter with nine.
“Austin battled hard on the inside and Majors did a good job finishing and has progressed along as the year went on,” Wilkinson said.
Enid finished the season with the same record, 9-14, as last season.
“We took strides this year,” Wilkinson said. “The good news is we have some scoring coming back with our juniors. We just need to find some ball handlers.
“I know we still have work to do, but we continue to push the program in the right direction. Sure, we ended up with the same record as last year, but we played some better competition this year and nine wins was not too bad. We took some important steps.”