EARLSBORO – The No. 3 in Class B Earlsboro (13-2) Wildcats came back from a 14-point halftime deficit Wednesday night to finally put the cap on the extended Jim Walling Classic at home, with a 67-59 win over unranked Varnum. Earlsboro coach Russell Parsons highlighted that the Whippets have not had an easy season with five losses coming from ranked teams, making their 8-8 record deceiving.
“Varnum is a good team. They're better than their record shows,” he said.
The Wildcats were 0-12 from 3-point range in the first half on top of having trouble defending the Whippets. It was only fitting that the first bucket out of the gate in the second half was a 3-pointer by Trey Herron.
“The first half, I felt like we had a lot of lapses defensively, and they made us pay by knocking down shots,” Parsons said.
The Wildcats fought back to close in on Varnum 50-41 with an and-one bucket by Kobe Smith and Herron and Smith closed out the quarter with a free throw each to make it a seven point game going to the fourth.
Varnum's Donovan Smith was the first to strike in the fourth, but an 8-0 run capped on a tip-in by Herron made it a 52-51 game in favor of the Whippets with 5:42 remaining. Buckets by Herron and Wyatt Norton gave the Wildcats a 55-54 lead with three minutes to go and sent the Wildcats on a 16-5 run, while going 7-of-10 from the charity stripe down the stretch.
The real kicker of the night came from Norton, who dropped a big 3-pointer with two minutes to go, to get Earlsboro out ahead 62-57.
Freshman Kaveon Sharp led the comeback and team with 15 points, all in the second half, and was 8-10 from the line. Smith and Elijah Stargell each had 14 points, Herron finished with 12 and Norton had seven.
Smith drew multiple fouls in the second half , including one resulting in a particularly hard landing that shook him up for a moment before going to the line to take his shots.
Though Parsons would like to avoid setbacks like his team had in the first half, it gave his boys and opportunity to see how they could handle adversity that they hadn't faced to this point in the season.
“At some point in the season, you've got to come from behind to win a game. So maybe it was a good thing for us,” he said.
The Wildcats will be on the road today at Maud and host Strother Saturday, weather permitting.