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Clutch free throws, buckets lift Earlsboro boys over Asher

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
The Earlsboro Wildcats pose for a team shot after capturing a Class B district championship over the Asher Indians on Saturday.
Earlsboro's Brady Wilson (13) tightly guards Asher's Mike McDonald (22) during a Class B district finals game on Saturday.

EARLSBORO – Down by five early in the fourth quarter, the 10th-ranked Earlsboro Wildcats weren't about to push the panic button against the Asher Indians in a Class B boys' district final Saturday afternoon.

Earlsboro, 15-4, outscored Asher 13-4 in the final 5:28 to escape with a 38-35 decision.

Clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch to go with three critical field goals enabled the Wildcats to rally from a 30-25 deficit.

“I spent a lot of the timeouts trying to remind everyone that there was a lot of time left. My job was to settle them down,” said Earlsboro head coach Devin Terry.

Danney Billingsley's basket with just under 5 ½ minutes to go, jump-started the late 13-4 spurt and pulled the Wildcats within 30-27. A 3-pointer by Justin McGehee and two free shots by Dante Hall put Earlsboro on top, 32-30, with 4:06 remaining. But soon after, Hall fouled out.

Asher did regain the lead one more time after a Devon Lamb free throw and a Mike McDonald 3-pointer with 1:32 left.

However, a Brady Wilson drive to the hoop for a score deadlocked the contest at 34 with 1:21 to go. The Wildcats then sealed the deal when Billingsley knocked down two free throws with 14 seconds remaining. McDonald pulled the Indians to within 36-35 after connecting on the second of two foul shots.

Wilson then drained two charity tosses with four seconds left to push the Earlsboro advantage to 38-35. Asher attempted a long pass down the floor but Ryan Long intercepted the delivery as the Wildcats ran out the clock.

“Even when Dante fouled out with about four minutes to go, we remained calm. Danney made two big free throws and Brady Wilson made two big free throws,” Terry said. “We guarded better and picked up the intensity late. It was an all-around good team effort.”

No Earlsboro player reached double figures. Wilson led the way with seven points while Hall, Billingsley and Eryn Johnson, off the bench, tallied six points each. McGehee tacked on five points and Long and Cody Skaggs contributed four apiece.

Johnson had two of the Wildcats' three 3-pointers in the game while McGehee landed the other.

McDonald had a game-high 14 points for Asher while Lamb, Tray O'Dell and Cameron Grissom tossed in six each.

The Indians ended up with four treys in the game as Grissom connected on two of them while McDonald and Lamb had one apiece.

O'Dell had a game-leading 10 rebounds for Asher. Long topped Earlsboro on the boards with eight. The Indians held a 28-20 rebounding advantage.

The Wildcats shot 45.2% from the field for the game and the Indians were 28.9%. Asher was only 8 of 17 from the foul line and the Earlsboro was 7 of 12.

Both Earlsboro and Asher advance to regionals. The Indians play in the consolation bracket Thursday at 3 p.m. in Earlsboro while the Wildcats are at home in winners' bracket play at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Earlsboro 66, Mill Creek 34 (Girls' First Round Friday)

Injuries and quarantines have recently cut down Earlsboro's roster, but the 10th-ranked Wildcats held steady Friday and picked up a 66-34 rout of the Mill Creek Bullfrogs in a Class B first-round district game.

Riley Baker and Long accounted for half of Earlsboro's points with Baker tallying 18 and Long finishing with 15.

“Ryan Long played really well and Riley Baker played really well. They set the tone for us early and got us going,” said Earlsboro head coach Devin Terry.

Baker nailed 8 of 13 shots from the field and 2 of 3 free throws to go with nine rebounds and Long was 7 of 11 from the floor and 1 of 2 from the line to go with nine boards.

Leading early 4-3, the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run in the midst of a 16-4 spurt to close the quarter.

Long hit three straight buckets and eight of the 10 points during that 10-0 scoring spree as Earlsboro went up 14-3. Baker had five points in the final 3:17 of the first quarter off a putback and an old-fashioned 3-point play.

The Wildcats then scored the first eight points of the second period to go up 28-7 off treys by Johnson and Josh Cox sandwiched around a Baker 2-point bucket.

Earlsboro went on to a 41-20 halftime lead after shooting 62.1% from the field in the opening 16 minutes.

The Wildcats hiked their advantage to 29 by the end of the third period, 57-28.

Cox tossed in nine points while Johnson, Skaggs and Christian Howeth supplied six points each for Earlsboro. Johnson and Howeth each sank two treys.

Asher 37, Moss 36 (Boys' First Round Friday)

McDonald fired in a game-high 24 points as the Indians escaped with the one-point victory over Moss.

McDonald canned three 3-pointers in the game as he scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half.

Grissom added eight points, including one trey, to the Asher attack in the nip-and-tuck affair.

Lyric Moreno was the high scorer for Moss while teammate Tacker Brown contributed 10.