The Shawnee Wolves had their share of heartbreak and close losses in 2012, but 2013 is treating them a whole lot better.
After a 1-7 start, the Wolves have reeled off three straight wins, including a 58-41 romp over Choctaw in the first round of the East Central Oklahoma Tournament Thursday in what might be their strongest team performance yet.
“[Our defense] really got us going well. In the first half, I thought we played outstanding defense,” SHS head coach Ron Arthur said of his squad, which pitched a 12-0 shutout in the first quarter.
As of late, defense has been the name of the game for the Wolves (4-7, 2-2 Suburban Conference), who started their three-game run before Christmas break with a 65-61 win over then No. 18 Guthrie. They followed that win with a 49-40 win over 5A’s No. 10 El Reno Tuesday before blasting the Yellowjackets Thursday.
“Our defensive intensity was a big key for us [against El Reno]. We played with a lot of passion,” Arthur said.
The Wolves forced 11 turnovers in the first half, including eight in the tone-setting first quarter. They held the Yellowjackets to just 27 percent shooting for the game.
Shawnee never trailed in the game and allowed just 20 points in the first 24 minutes of play. Only a 21-point Yellowjacket spurt in the fourth quarter helped make their final tally respectable.
Theo Berry led the Wolves with 11 points. Trey Maston, Austin Cooper and Don Murphy each netted nine.
The Wolves will take on Ponca City in the second round of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. today.
Class 5A’s top-ranked Lady Wolves also fared well Thursday, snagging a 34-29 win over Ponca City in the opening round of the East Central Oklahoma Classic. This moves the defending state champions to 10-1 overall, and moves them to a 7 p.m. semifinals match today against Choctaw.
Shawnee junior McKenzie Cooper led all scorers with 15 points, and senior Micaela Yu posted 10. All of Ponca City’s members were held to single digits.
“I’m proud of my post players. It was very physical inside tonight, and they were able to keep their composure and make shots under pressure,” said SHS coach Wendi Wells. “Andy our young kids were able to stay composed and find a way to win.”
Shawnee led 10-6 after one quarter, and 21-13 at the break. The Lady Wolves were up 32-19 after three quarters, and held off a would-be rally that stalled after eight fourth-quarter points.
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Choctaw’s girls are ranked 18th in Class 6A.
Note: Report compiled by Chuck Porter and Jason Smith.