By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
In the third game of a four-game homestand, Enid will be looking to extend a pair of winning streaks when it hosts Guthrie in a girls-boys basketball doubleheader beginning at 6:30 tonight at the Mabee Center.
The Plainsmen (7-11) won their season-best third- straight game last Thursday, downing Ponca City 49-40. The win over the Wildcats also avenged an earlier 59-58 loss at Ponca City and saw the emergence of Raeshaan Finley as a new offensive weapon for the Plainsmen.
Finley, a junior, scored a season-high 13 points off the bench, the first time he reached double figures, nearly doubling his previous season-high, single-game output of seven points set Dec. 27 against Midwest City in an 89-52 loss in the opening round of the Mid-Del Tournament.
“I have fun going in,” Finley said after the victory over Ponca City. “When I go in, I know I just need to take advantage of it.”
While Finley’s offensive numbers may have surprised casual observers, Plainsmen head coach Ryan Wilkinson wasn’t. He already was confident in Finley’s defensive abilities.
“We knew he could be a scorer,” Wilkinson said after the win over Ponca City. “Now he’s giving it to us at both ends. That’s why he’s getting more playing time.”
During the Plainsmen’s three-game win streak, which also includes wins over Yukon and Woodward, Enid has held its opponents to an average of just 40.3 points per game.
While the offensive production is nice, it was the team’s defensive effort that Wilkinson focused on after the victory on Thursday, particularly after holding a third-straight opponent under 50 points.
“That’s kind of a goal we have,” Wilkinson said. “I think our guys are starting to realize, when we do hold teams and keep them in that range ... guess what, we’re magically winning games.”
The Plainsmen will be looking to sweep Guthrie in the season series. Enid won 57-51 Jan. 4 at Guthrie behind 15 points from Correll Baker and 13 points from Aaron Austin.
The Class 5A Bluejays (5-14) have lost five straight entering tonight’s game, with their most recent setback being a 65-60 loss to Chickasha on Friday. They have given up an average of 61.2 points during their current skid and have been outscored by an average margin of 18.4 points per game, including a 60-30 blowout loss to Tulsa East Central on Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, the No. 8-ranked Pacers (15-3), who have been playing without the services of starting freshman Andi Pierce, out with a season-ending non-basketball injury, and then without starter Abby Lee due to the flu in Thursday’s 41-31 win over Ponca City, will be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games.
The Pacers have won 13 of their last 15 games, with their only two losses during that stretch coming in a pair of championship tournament games, falling to host schools Muskogee (68-66) in the Bedouin Shrine Classic on Jan. 12 and Deer Creek Edmond (42-33) at the Deer Creek Invitational. Enid’s only other loss this season was back on Dec. 6, falling 40-34 to Lawon MacArthur.
With Lee sidelined Thursday, Myranda Wilkerson stepped into the starting role and played all 32 minutes.
“She did a good job,” Pacers head coach Robb Mills said after the Ponca City win. “It as was a big step up.”
While Lee is expected back tonight for Enid, Pacers’ senior Courtney Chelf, averaging a team-leading 17.2 points per game, continues to be the Pacers’ catalyst. Chelf scored all 11 of Enid’s forth-quarter points in Thursday’s win over Ponca City and finished with 18 for the game. Prior to the win over Ponca City, she had scored 21 or more points in three straight games.
Like the Plainsmen, the Pacers will be looking to complete a season sweep of Guthrie. Enid downed Guthrie 45-42 on the road Jan. 4 with Haven Bay leading the way with a season-high 17 points, followed by Chelf with 15.
The Lady Bluejays (10-9) have lost two of their last three games, falling 55-47 at Roland and dropping a tight 50-49 contest to Carl Albert before defeating Chickasha 56-41 on Friday.
After tonight, Enid will be off until Feb. 12 when it wraps up its four-game homestand against rival Stillwater.
Both of tonight’s games will be broadcast by KGWA (960 AM).
Staff writer Ryan Costello contributed to this report.