By Tom Nelson, Special to the News & Eagle
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
If you are going to win a Cherokee Strip Conference Tournament championship, you may as well beat the best to get there. That’s what the Deer Creek-Lamont Lady Eagles did, knocking off the top seed, No. 2 in Class B Lomega (19-5) 61-57, one night after beating second-seeded Timberlake in the semifinals.
In the boys bracket, top-seed Cherokee rolled through the field, besting sixth-seeded Medford 49-31 in the nightcap at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
DCLA (14-6) won its second tournament title (2004), led by scintillating guard play against Lomega’s relentless full-court pressure, but early on, it was the Lady Raiders who jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.
Things looked worse for the Lady Eagles when their starting post, sophomore Haley Stacy, went down with a a possible knee injury. She would not return, but it set in motion a Lady Eagle rally that led to a 12-0 run to give them a 12-7 lead. Katy Starr, playing through a knee injury of her own, stepped into the void left by Stacy’s injury and scored seven points in the first eight minutes.
“Katy (Starr) has been out for a couple of weeks.” said DCLA coach Chad Hutchison. “This week was supposed to be more practice for her than anything and then today her minutes got extended and I thought she did great.”
DCLA led 15-9 after the first quarter and held serve in the second, taking a 28-21 advantage into halftime.
The Lady Eagles did not fold under Lomega’s pressure defense in the second half, building their lead to 35-27, before Lomega’s Ashley LaGasse scored a quick 10 points in the third to trim the DCLA advantage to 41-39 after three quarters.
“We talked about spreading the floor and attacking any pressure we were going to see throughout the week, Hutchison said. “Today was a great job of stepping up and attacking it consistently.”
The Lady Raiders would grab their first lead since the first six minutes of the game at 49-48. Lady Eagle guard Marian Muegge would nail a left wing jumper to put DCLA back on top, but LaGasse’s trey gave the lead back to Lomega at 54-53.
It would be the last time the Lady Raiders would score until the waning seconds. Lomega’s Kylie Turner fouled out with 3:36 left and LaGasse followed her to the bench, fouling out with 1:20 remaining. Starr scored 10 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to hold off Lomega. A late three-pointer by Lomega’s Taylor Mendell pulled the Lady Raiders to within three points in the waning seconds, but a Marian Muegge free-throw made it a two possession game and the Lady Eagles held on for the victory.
Jessica Blanton added 16 points for DCLA. LaGasse scored 20 points and Mendell added 15 for the Lady Raiders.
In other girls games, Burlington beat Timberlake 53-50 for third, Cherokee beat Medford 38-26 for fifth and Kremlin-Hillsdale beat Ringwood 56-54 for seventh.
In the boys title tilt, the Cherokee Chiefs (16-4) won their first conference tournament title since joining the league.
The Chiefs jumped out early 7-2 as Derek McKinnon nailed an early trey, but the Cardinals cut the Chief lead to 9-7 on a Tanner Misak basket. Medford trailed 13-10 after scoring the first three points of the second quarter, but they would not score again before the half as Cherokee put together a 9-0 run, helped by treys by McKinnon and Austin Huckabee, to lead 22-10 at halftime.
Cherokee came out in the second half and kept the pressure on, outscoring Medford 15-10 in the third to stretch the advantage to 17. Medford cut the deficit to 41-28 in the fourth, but an 8-0 Chiefs run put it away and brought the title to Cherokee for the first time.
“These guys are great.” said Cherokee head coach Matt Guffy. “These seniors have played together for forever, since about third grade and they love the game of basketball. They’ve put a lot of time in. I’m proud of all of these guys.”
In other boys games Saturday, Burlington beat Lomega 62-29 for third, DCLA beat Ringwood 52-27 for fifth and Kremlin-Hillsdale beat Timberlake 42-30 for seventh.
The Chiefs have now won six in a row after losing to Pond Creek-Hunter in the finals of the Cherokee Invitational. They avenged that loss to the Panthers two days later with a 10-point win over PC-H. After this win over Medford, Guffy knows it will be the Cardinals who will be very hungry in a couple of weeks.
“We’ve got to play Medford again in about two weeks (in district play) and they are going to come out fighting,” Guffy said. “They don’t ever give up and they are going to work hard. We’ve got to do the same and just move on the best we can.”
Grant DeWitt and Austin Huckabee paced Cherokee with 14 and 13 points respectively.
“Those two guys (DeWitt and Huckabee), are two of our leaders.” Guffy said. “I consider all five of our seniors huge leaders for us and those two are doing the majority of our scoring, but without those other guys getting them the ball, setting those screens, playing great defense … Those two might be our leading scorers, but they are not selfish. They all work together.”
The Cardinals (7-12) were led by Tanner Misak’s 13 points. Ryan Kilian added nine..8