ADA – Things got a little hairy for Shawnee in the fourth quarter, but the Wolves held on to take down Durant 53-48 Friday at the Ada East Central Oklahoma Classic. The win moves Shawnee into Saturday's championship game of the Ada East Central Oklahoma Classic.
“We're really proud to get the win and get to the finals,” coach Ron Arthur said.
The Wolves entered the fourth with a 39-29 advantage and extended out to a 48-34 lead on a layup and free-throw by Chase Morris with 4:32 remaining. That's when things changed.
The Lions rallied with nine unanswered points to close the gap to 48-43 with 2:07 left. Tyler Huebert stopped the drought with a backend free-throw and Shaun Willis earned a steal and fast break layup to push ahead 51-43. Durant's Dominic Wynn hit a 3-pointer and Daniel Long put in a layup to make it a 51-48 game and Huebert sank both free-throws as Durant sent him to the line with 2.2 seconds remaining.
Arthur reminded his team that the Lions' play style is one that isn't phased when they are down, as the Wolves experienced at the tournament last season.
“They play hard all the time, no matter what the score is, no matter if they're up 20 or down 20 or somewhere in between... They just get after you and make you have to finish games,” he said.
The game was back and forth in the first half with nine lead changes – six of which came in the second quarter.
Huebert replaced Ramey Harrison early in the first quarter after Harrison left the game with a high ankle sprain. Harrison went for a layup but was injured after having a charging call against him 1:20 into the game. Arthur was uncertain if he would be able to make a return in time for Saturday's championship game.
Not long after coming into the game, Huebert made a steal and layup to kick off a 6-0 run capped on another by Donovan Neal and bucket from Carson Meier to go up 11-5 with 2:03 left in the quarter.
Drake Gates put in a basket to move Durant ahead 27-23 at the start of the second half but LJ McKissick hit two buckets to tie up at 27 and send Shawnee on a 16-2 run for a 10-point lead after the third.
Carson Meier led Shawnee with 15 points and had 13 in the first half. Willis had 12 and was 4-5 from the line, McKissick had 10 and Morris put up nine.
Willis' steal and layup in the fourth was a difference maker in a time that the offense wasn't getting their job done, Arthur said.
“We were very stagnant offensively because we weren't making free-throws and were turning the ball over too much and we had to do it on the defensive end.” he said.
The Wolves defense played strong initially, but gave up too many offensive rebounds for second chance opportunities late in the game.
The No. 20 in Class 6A Wolves (4-5) will face No. 10 Sapulpa (7-1) tonight at 8 p.m. for the tournament title. Sapulpa took down 4A-No. 19 Ada, 61-57 in their semifinal game.
Arthur is glad to be in the championship game and considers it a successful tournament by being able to play for the title. That doesn't mean that him or the Wolves players will be satisfied leaving without hardware though.
“We've got two wins but we're not going to be satisfied with that,” he said. “We're gonna go out, compete and go try to win the championship and bring it home.”