SHAWNEE – Every Senior Night is a memorable one for coaches and their athletes, but Donovan Neal may have had one of the more memorable Senior Night moments for those in attendance of Shawnee's 81-40 win over Noble as the big man drained back-to-back 3-pointers late in the game.
“It's amazing,” Neal said. “I didn't expect to come out and shoot them on Senior Night. It means a lot because it's the last time I'll ever play on this court with this group of men.”
Neal, a post player who has yearned to shoot the three ball, was given the go ahead by coach Ron Arthur in the final minutes of his home game career Tuesday. He attempted three shots, making the first two. Before taking the first shot he had to double check that he heard Arthur correctly though.
“When he told me to shoot the three, I was confused, because he's never told me to shoot a three before,” he said.
The Wolves started strong with 10 unanswered points before giving up their first bucket of the game at the 4:25 mark rolled to a 21-6 lead going to the second quarter.
The Wolves continued the rally with 11 in a row capped on a triple by Daryl Busby with 4:56 left in the half to take a 32-6 lead. The Bears got six back and Shawnee went into the halftime break with a 42-12 advantage.
Shawnee started the second half with another nine unanswered before the teams started trading blows and Noble went on a 7-0 run stopped by two free throws by Chase Morris with 2:48 left in the third to make it a 57-23 game. The Bears tightened Shawnee's lead with three 3-pointers in the third but couldn't close the gap and Shawnee went into the fourth with a 64-26 lead to easily hold on.
Each of the seniors from the boys and girls teams were honored in a ceremony between the two games as well as after making their final exits from the Shawnee court as their subs came in. Neal had one of the last exits for the Wolves seniors after hitting his two treys late in the fourth. Arthur was happy he gave him the green light.
“For him to hit those three's, I'm happy for him because that's something that he's been wanting to do and he got his opportunity to show his range,” he said.
Morris led all scorers with 16 points, Busby had 15, Carson Meier finished with 14 and Ramey Harrison had 11. Shaun Willis had eight, Neal's two treys contributed six, Deandre love, LJ McKissick and Cody Parman each chipped in three and Tyler Huebert had two points.
Jason Maxwell led Noble with 13 points.
Arthur's team is stacked with seniors with eight total, including his entire regular starting lineup, in Busby, McKissick, Parman, Morris, Harrison, Neal, Meier and Willis. All but McKissick have been with the program all four years, while he came in his junior year. The progress the team has made is not insignificant.
“They've impacted this program bigger than they can ever imagine,” Arthur said. “Kids up in the stands, junior high kids, elementary school kids, look up to these guys and they're great role models both on and off the court and I'm proud to be their coach.”
The 10-12 Wolves travel to Carl Albert Friday to put the cap on their regular season. They will continue on to the playoffs at Owasso Friday, Feb. 23, where they will square off with Norman at 6:30 as they try to keep their season alive.