Semifinal Friday night at the 66 Conference Tournament wasn't for the weak at heart, as both games came down to the wire.
PRAGUE—Semifinal Friday night at the 66 Conference Tournament wasn't for the weak at heart, as both games came down to the wire.
In the first semifinal, the Okemah Panthers rallied late for a 52-51 win over the Meeker Bulldogs before the Seminole Chieftains outlasted the Prague Red Devils 49-44.
Seminole and Okemah will go at it tonight at 7:30 for the tournament crown.
In the Seminole win, the two teams went toe-to-toe for 32 minutes. The game featured seven ties and nine lead changes before the Chieftains pulled away late in the fourth quarter. Prague's biggest lead of the game was four, at the 1:54 mark of the third quarter on an Isaac Bloomer hoop and again early in the fourth quarter on two free throws by Calvin Boyce.
Seminole outscored Prague 13-4 after the four-point Red Devil lead.
“I'm really proud of the way fought and clawed our way to the win tonight,” said Seminole head coach Josh Edenborough. “Give Prague a lot of credit – they made us do things that are a little out of character for us.”
The game started with a 7-2 run by Seminole, but the Red Devils cut it to 12-10 by the end of the quarter. The Chieftains maintained the two-point lead at 27-25 after the first quarter. Seminole had five different players score in the half and were led by Shammario Stephens and Kasen Clark who each had seven first-half points. Zadden Jones scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half for Prague.
Jones’ inside play led to some early foul problems for Seminole, including an early exit of 6'7” post Adam Nance. Nance finished the game with two points on a hoop midway through the fourth quarter.
“We got into some bad foul trouble,” said Edenborough. “We haven't had to play in many close games this season.”
Seminole's fourth quarter run was spurred by some gritty defense. The Chieftains allowed just two field goals and three free throws in the quarter and held the Red Devils to just two points in the final four minutes of play.
Kason Clark led Seminole in scoring with 12 points, while Stephens finished with 11. Trevor Brinker came off of the bench for 11.
Bloomer led all scorers with 15 points for Prague. Brady Thorpe contributed seven.
The Okemah Panthers, trailing 51-50 to the Meeker Bulldogs, ran a perfect (under their own goal) inbounds play to find an open C.D. Harjo for the go-ahead lay-in with just :4.1 remaining. The Bulldogs had a final look, and it was a good one, as they worked the ball to Brett Roach, who back-rimmed the jumper from just beyond his free-throw line as the buzzer sounded.
Okemah led 13-7 after the first quarter, but Meeker took the lead 25-22 into the half and upped it to 40-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
Meeker's lead jumped to 44-37 on a Joe Coker bucket with 5:33 left. Okemah then whittled the lead down to one, setting up the game-winning inbounds play.
The Bulldogs will face Prague in the third-place game today at 4:30 pm. Meeker's Dylan Thomas led all scorers with 17. Josh Whitfield scored a dozen and Roach finished with 10.
Okemah was led by Harjo and Cade Dean with 11 each. Seth Harjo added 10 for the Panthers.