OKLAHOMA CITY – One year to the day of being upset in the first round of the Class B state tournament, the Earlsboro Wildcats have earned a spot in the state championship game. The No. 1 Wildcats defeated returning champs and fourth-rankeday Calumet 71-59 Friday afternoon in the semifinals to earn their shot at the trophy Saturday against No. 2 Red Oak.
“It's a dream come true to be playing the last day of the season,” coach Russell Parsons said. “Words can't really describe it other than that.”
Calumet's Riley Island was hot in the first half with 25 points and was 8-16 from beyond the arc, but didn't have enough help behind him. Trenton Nadeau was on target for 15 points to go 100 percent from 3-point land and Elijah Stargell keyed in 14 points to give the Wildcats a 44-35 lead at the half.
Nadaeu landed his second triple of the game with 2:01 left in the first quarter to tie up at 20 and kick off a 10-point streak capped on a steal and bucket by Stargell to lead 27-20 after the first.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 36-23 in the second before Island landed his sixth trey of the game to start a 10-0 run for Calumet and get within three. Stargell stopped the bleeding and the Wildcats rallied 8-2 to close out the half capped on a three by Nadaeu to lead 44-35 at the break.
Despite his first half performance, Parsons would have liked to have seen him Nadeau able to take a few more shtos.
“I still felt like even though he had a good first half, we need to get him the ball more,” Parsons said. “I felt like he didn't get the ball enough in the first half.”
The Wildcats calmed Island down in the second half to hold him to six more points in the final 16 minutes of play. Parsons said that he didn't change things up in the second half on how they were guarding Island, they just polished up a bit.
“We didn't really do anything differently,” he said. “We just tried to do what we were doing a little better.”
Earlsboro kept the pace in the second half and went 6-8 from the line to close things out. The Wildcats shot 54 percent from the field and out-rebounded Calumet 43-25 to keep the Chieftains from multiple second chance opportunities.
Island led all scorers with 31 points and was 8-23 from three point range and 11-38 from the field.
Stargell had 25 points with an impressive 16 boards for the double-double. Nadeau finished with 15 points and was 5-8 from beyond the arc and had five rebounds. Kaveon Sharp had 10 points, five boards and seven dimes, Cordell King added nine points and had three offensive boards and Trey Herron finished up with eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Wildcats (29-1) will play 26-4 Red Oak Saturday at noon in the championship game. The Eagles beat No. 10 Leedey 62-41 Friday. Parsons knows that his guys will have to come with all they've got to go home with the hardware.
“They're a well oiled machine,” he said. “We'll really need to be good on both ends of the floor. But that's what you have to expect when you're playing in the state championship game I would imagine, no matter who the opponent is.”
Red Oak won the title in 2016 and are two-time Class B champions with their first coming in 2009. The Wildcats look to lock down their second championship after winning last in 1993.