Wolves whip Stillwater; Lady Wolves fall to McAlester

Brian Johnson
Sports Editor
Shawnee's KaVeon Sharp (left) lunges in on a steal attempt as teammate Jaylon Orange looks on in the background against Stillwater Thursday in the first round of the 2020 Vision Bank Shawnee Invitational.    

Perhaps one of Shawnee’s worst quarters of the season, the third, was transformed into one of the best, the fourth, as the Class 5A third-ranked Wolves pulled away for a 65-49 victory over the Stillwater Pioneers Thursday in the opening round of the 2020 Vision Bank Shawnee Invitational at the Shawnee Performing Arts and Athletic Center.

The Wolves, 11-2 on the season, jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 20-5 lead after one quarter and settled for a 32-19 halftime advantage. But the scrappy Pioneers made it too close for comfort by slicing into the Shawnee cushion at 39-35 with 1:49 to go in the third.

But thanks to the gunslinging efforts of Tanner Morris, he sank two of his seven 3-point makes in the final 1:42 of the third as the Wolves got some separation by quarter’s end at 45-37.

Morris poured in a game-high 25 points with his seven 3-point connections while hustling for seven rebounds.

“Tanner bailed us out. We were flat at both ends of the floor (to start the second half). It was a disappointing effort at both ends,” said Shawnee head coach Ron Arthur. “Stillwater will play you for 32 minutes and more. I told our guys (at the end of the third quarter) that we can’t have Stillwater hit shots and attack the basket like they did.”

Message received.

“It was a matter of turning up the pressure and making smart decisions on offense,” Arthur said. “We were too busy shooting threes instead of working the ball inside. The fourth quarter was outstanding. Our emphasis was to move the ball better.”

The Wolves came out blazing in the fourth quarter with a 12-2 spurt, highlighted by three buckets from reserve Karran Evans and two scores from KaVeon Sharp and one from J’Briell Easley as Shawnee went up comfortably, 57-39, with 4:17 remaining.

The first three baskets of that run – two by Evans and one by Sharp - came off assists from Moses Martinez. Shawnee went on to outscore the Pioneers, 20-12, in the fourth.

Isaiah Willis recorded a double-double for the Wolves with 11 points and 10 rebounds, six of which came off the offensive glass.

Sharp ended up with 10 points, four boards, three assists and two steals on the day and Evans tallied eight, six of which came during that huge fourth-quarter spree, to go with seven rebounds. Easley also chipped in six points, pulled down five boards and notched a steal.

Starter Garrick Martin and reserve Bayden Reese led Stillwater with 12 points apiece and Kobe Holley finished with nine.

Shawnee will face Choctaw in the semifinals today at 5:30 p.m. Choctaw knocked off Southeast in a first-round contest on Thursday.

McALESTER 51, SHAWNEE 38 (Girls)

Three Lady Buffaloes reached double figures in scoring, led by Stevie Stinchcomb with 15, in dominating the Lady Wolves in the tournament opener Thursday morning.

Elizabeth Milligan followed with 11 points and Brenae Rhone had 10 as McAlester controlled every quarter, but the fourth.

Shawnee, which dropped to 6-7 on the season, cut into what was once a 20-point McAlester advantage late

in the third quarter by trimming it to 45-36 with 2:02 left in the game thanks to some pressure defense, but the Lady Buffs pulled away by converting 6-of-8 free throws during that last two-minute span.

Aubrie Megehee led the way for the Lady Wolves with 17 points as she also grabbed seven rebounds and registered three steals. Esabelle Ramirez followed with six points off the bench and Amaya Martinez added five in a reserve role as well.

Tatum Sparks gathered six boards and recorded a pair of steals while finishing with four points.

A major issue for Shawnee was 19 turnovers as the Lady Wolves had six each in the first two quarters. However, Shawnee did force 12 second-half McAlester to climb within striking distance. The Lady Buffs ended up with 16 miscues for the game.

Another problem for the Lady Wolves was their inability to convert at the foul line. They were only 12-of-24 for the game.

Shawnee, which suffered its third straight loss, will try to get back on the winning track today as they take on Duncan at 10 a.m. in consolation bracket play. The Lady Demons were beaten by Sapulpa on Thursday.