Burnett retires following Prague setback

Fred Fehr
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK

HENNESSEY — Like so many occasions in his 30-year basketball coaching career, Benny Burnett was making some postgame comments.

In this case, Burnett was talking after Prague’s 61-37 setback to sixth-ranked Perry in a Class 3A area tournament matchup which concluded the Red Devil season.

“That’s it, I’m done from coaching,” said Burnett. “I’ve known I was quitting for a couple of months. I’m just tired.”

Burnett has amassed a 641-198 head-coaching record at four different schools — Minco, Roff, Prague, Dale and Prague again, the last stint for six years.

Burnett’s squads made 15 trips to the state tournament, including a 1993 championship which marked Prague’s first-ever state title in any sport.

“Then, in 2010, I won a state championship at Dale with my daughter Brenna,” Burnett said. “First and foremost, that was my best memory.”

Another great memory for Burnett was the 1993 state semifinal game with Oologah. Down six points with nine seconds to play, Prague made a steal, followed by a Jenny Tewksbury 3-pointer. The Lady Red Devils then fouled on the in-bounds play — with no time expiring — and Oologah missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw. Angela Davis grabbed the rebound, passed the ball to Malisa Daniel, who passed to Treasure Fincher for the game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Prague went on to win in overtime and then defeated Elk City for the state title.

Burnett finished his final season after Perry outscored the Red Devils in every quarter.

“We were up 12-10 and going for the last shot of the first quarter when we committed a foul. They hit a 2-point shot and a foul shot for a 13-12 lead. That seemed like a big momentum thing for them,” Burnett said.

Perry outscored Prague 18-9 in the second quarter for a 31-22 halftime edge and was up 42-26 entering the final eight minutes.

“They were a lot more physical than we were. We just didn’t match up. Their physical edge inside allowed them some open outside shots.”

Perry knocked down six 3-point field goals as Maebry Shields led the way with three.

Brylie Dale of Perry headed all scorers with 22. Shields netted 11 and Savannah Chenoweth had 10, including two treys.

Junior Alauna Parker was Prague’s top scorer with 12, including a 3-pointer. Tori Lester chipped in with 11. Mattie Rich and Payton Camren notched five points apiece.

Perry canned 12-of-15 charity tosses for 80%. Prague was 6 of 12 for 50%.

Perry eliminated Metro Christian Thursday. Metro Christian defeated Prague 35-26 in regional play, thanks largely to eight treys.

Prague had four games cancelled this year because of the pandemic. It was Burnett’s first-ever losing season.

“I’ve had some great memories,” Burnett said.

Burnett said he hopes to stay on at Prague as the middle school principal.