MEEKER – Nothing went the way Meeker coach Evan Smith was expecting it to Friday in the Bulldogs' 62-59 loss to Henryetta in the District 3 championship game.
The Bulldogs practiced all week for a game that Smith was confident they would win, but the Henryetta players got in Meeker's heads early on and caused disruption throughout the tightly contested game.
“I think tonight we got caught up in all the game as far as kids talking back and forth,” Smith said. “We couldn't shoot because we didn't have our mind where it needed to be. We let them get too physical and get up in our heads and played bad.”
Henryetta took over late in the third and held the advantage for a good chunk of the fourth, before Meeker made a late push.
Trailing by 12, Meeker went on a rally capped on a triple by Dylan Thomas to make it a 59-56 game in favor of the Knights with 1:11 to play.
The Bulldogs sent Henryetta's Jarett Day to the line and after he missed both, Thomas hit a three with 15 seconds left to make it a 60-59 game and get within one.
Henryetta's Drew Brown was sent to the line and made both attempts and the Bulldogs were unable to hit a last second three.
The fight that Meeker showed at the end wasn't there the rest of the game, Smith said.
“I think that was just intensity that we should have had the whole game,” he said. “We finally found it at the end. We waited too long.”
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game on a basket by Joe Coker with 3:35 left to play in the first quarter to make it an 8-7 game and the teams went into the second tied up at 13 each.
James Green drained two free throws to start out the second and give Meeker a short lived lead before the back-and-forth continued. A small rally capped on two courtesy shots by Gavin Hale gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the half at 31-25 with a minute left before the break, but the Knights powered back with five unanswered of their own to tighten Meeker's lead to 31-30 at the break.
The to and fro continued in the third when Brett Roach made a bucket and was sent to the foul line. The Bulldogs got the rebound on the missed free throw and Josh Whitfield went to the line to tie it back up at 42 with 1:46 until the fourth. Henryetta rallied with six points and took a 48-42 lead into the final minutes.
Coker and Thomas led the Bulldogs with 12 points each. All of Thomas' points came on 3-pointers and three of those happened in the fourth quarter. Justis Nelson had nine and Whitfield and Roach each contributed seven.
Henryetta's Brown led all scorers with 15 points and Colten Wion had 13.
Meeker now enters into the single elimination consolation bracket of the regional tournament next Thursday at Henryetta at 3 p.m.. They will play the runner-up of the District 2 title game between Oktaha and Pocola.