EARLSBORO – Even without a bench, Sasakwa kept things interesting but ultimately fell to No. 6 in Class B Earlsboro Tuesday night. With lead scorer Caleb Garcia out sick, the Vikings saw the one bench player they usually have in freshman Dusty Boling diminished to nil, forcing all five available members to play the entirety of the contest. The Wildcats had eclipsed Sasakwa two times prior to Tuesday's meeting, but because of those wins and having Garcia out, the Earlsboro boys might have taken them too lightly.
“I thought their kids stepped up... they moved the ball well and hit some shots,” Earlsboro assistant coach Stacey Barton said.
The 73-58 win wasn't a pretty one, but it proved to be enough to put Earlsboro on a 22-3 track for the beginning of playoffs this weekend.
The Wildcats got out to a 9-2 run to start the game, but quickly lost ground as Sasakwa finished the first quarter with a 17-16 lead. The two teams were evenly matched in the second, but a buzzer-beater triple by Trey Herron gave the Wildcats a 34-31 advantage at the break.
With two minutes left in the third and tied again at 42, Herron kicked off a 10-2 run to give Earlsboro their biggest advantage since the beginning of the game and the team never gave up the ghost.
Kaveon Sharp led the charge with 20 points, five assists and three steals and Kobe Smith had 18 points, seven assists and seven boards. Herron finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five steals and Wyatt Norton and Elijah Stargell each had eight points.
Going into playoffs, the team isn't likely to have the luxury of another performance like Tuesday's and need to play with more intensity on defense, coach Russell Parsons said.
“Our kids just have to show the right amount of maturity I feel like. I think we've got all the pieces in place if we play well,” he said.
Up next for the Wildcats will be a home playoff opener Saturday against the winner of Friday's game between Wanette and Gracemont. Tipoff for the Earlsboro game is 8 p.m.