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North Rock Creek boys win Pott. County Tournament title

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
The North Rock Creek boys basketball team poses with their trophy after winning the Pottawatomie County Tournament on Saturday.

Saturday's Pottawatomie County Tournament boys' championship game was played through a grinder.

The Class 3A ninth-ranked North Rock Creek Cougars made just enough plays and hit enough free throws down the stretch to claim a 58-51 decision over the Class B 10th-ranked Earlsboro Wildcats at North Rock Creek High School.

The Cougars improved to 13-2 on the season while the Wildcats fell to 10-4.

“Earlsboro is a very, very good team with a lot of weapons,” said North Rock Creek head coach Evan Smith. “Our defense picked it up in the second quarter and late in the game.”

The Cougars compiled 12 steals in the game while forcing 16 Earlsboro turnovers.

NRC placed just two players in double figures as Noah McMullan and Jordan Coody tossed in 15 apiece. McMullan nailed 5-of-11 shots, including one 3-pointer, and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the free-throw line to go with a team-leading four steals and three rebounds. Coody was 5 of 6 with three treys, was 2 of 3 from the line, snatched seven rebounds and recorded a pair of steals.

“Jordan had a slow start to the season because of sickness and a couple of injuries, so he is just now getting into top shape,” Smith said.

Diego Garcia finished with eight points, seven boards, one steal and a block for the winners. Jace McRay tacked on five points, seven rebounds and three steals.

“I'm proud of our team. We had a lot of kids step up. Devon Haney gave us some great minutes and we left him in the game at the end,” said Smith.

The Wildcats received outstanding firepower from Danney Billingsley and Dante Hall. Billingsley drained five 3-point shots and finished with 19 points and Hall also sank five treys and ended up with 18 points.

Billingsley also pulled down nine rebounds and had a steal. Hall had two steals and a pair of rebounds.

“I thought we played well. Our kids ran a defense we only practiced with for about 30 minutes,” said Earlsboro head coach Devin Terry. “I think the lack of maturity cost us down the stretch.”

Besides Billingsley and Hall, no other Wildcat player had more than four points.

The two teams battled to a 33-all draw through three quarters after Billingsley knocked down a trey from the left corner at the buzzer.

The Wildcats even enjoyed four short-lived one-point leads early in the fourth.

But a 12-3 spurt, triggered by six unanswered points – two buckets by Coody and a steal and layup from McMullan - pushed the Cougar advantage to 46-41 with 3:27 to go.

After another Billingsley trey cut the deficit to two, NRC countered with six straight points off a basket apiece from Haney and McRay and two Coody free shots with 1:37 remaining to make it 52-44.

Though the Cougars were only 8 of 15 from the line in the fourth quarter, they did manage to drain 8 of their last 10 tries in the final 1:37. McMullan was a perfect 4 of 4 inside the last 27 seconds.

NRC outscored Earlsboro by a 25-18 margin in the fourth.

Allen 41, North Rock Creek 38 (Girls' Championship)

Hannah Harris fired in a game-high 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and recorded three steals as the Lady Mustangs held on for the win and secured the crown.

Harris was an efficient 10 of 12 from the field with three 3-pointers. Teammate Emily Sells followed with 10 points, including two treys.

No Lady Cougar reached double figures as starter Macy Buoy and reserve Hailey Hacker tallied seven points each while Kate Masques and Lydia VanAntwerp contributed six apiece. Olivia McRay ended up with five points.

NRC had only two 3-point conversions, one each from McRay and Buoy.

VanAntwerp pulled down seven boards and Hacker collected five.

Except for an early 5-2 edge, the Lady Cougars trailed the entire way and were down by as much as 37-27 late in the third.

Allen took a 39-31 lead into the fourth. However, NRC scored seven straight points to pull within 39-38 with 1:18 left. All three field goals during that span were set up by Masques assists. Masques fed Jayden Haney for the first two and passed to VanAntwerp for the other.

But the Lady Cougars were unable to get over the hump.

NRC missed shots – a 3-point attempt and a 2-point try - on two straight possessions in the final 57 seconds.

Allen managed just one field goal – by Harris – in the final quarter. That came with 57 seconds to go.