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  My Site News: Warriors Outclass Carnegie to Win Regional Championship!  
 

Saturday, February 23
Warriors Outclass Carnegie to Win Regional Championship!
Warriors Outclass Carnegie to Win Regional Championship, 59-46

The Washington Warriors faced the Carnegie Wildcats in the Regional Championship Saturday night at the Great Plains Coliseum in Lawton. This was an especially meaningful game for the Warrior faithful if you know last season’s history. That history includes a meeting in last year’s Regional Championship game versus this same Carnegie team in Anadarko. In that particular game, the Warriors were victims of the biggest injustice in sports history at the hand of the officials. The Warriors were the much superior team, but the referees, obviously intimidated by the pro-Carnegie crowd at Anadarko, refused to let the Warriors play, doing whatever it took to make sure that Carnegie won.

That same pro-Carnegie crowd at Anadarko also has the distinction of being the worst in sports as they collectively booed the Warrior players as they came out for PRE-game warm-ups.

So - the history was there. This was a game the Warriors wanted, and bad.

The game started with Senior center Zach Simmons winning the tip over the tallest Wildcat, who stood only 6-1. They were very small and quick, with no size or height, and no post game whatsoever. They had obtained their lofty ranking, #9, mostly on virtue of their state tournament appearance last year – since their record coming into this game was a very unimpressive 14-8. The key to their game was 3-point shooting, and as been mentioned ad nauseum in this space – that is where the Warriors will have to win their remaining games.

Carnegie was basically a one-man team, with #12 being an excellent player, but mostly a shooter, without much ability to create his own shot (and he had almost no help). That was exactly what the Warriors wanted to deny him – the open, stand-still shot. Coach Roberson put Senior guard Rob Young on the Wildcat’s best player and accomplished just that. Young played a fantastic game on defense, plus scoring a career-high 9 points in the process.

The first quarter was all Warriors. From the opening tip, it was clear to all that the Warriors were vastly superior. The Wildcats had no answer for Simmons in the middle, and not near enough athletes to compete with Class 2A’s #2 team. WHS had the advantage in the post with Simmons, and had the advantage out front in Senior point guard Nathan Price, who handled the Carnegie press all night. Carnegie briefly held a tie at 5, but then increasingly fell behind.

Then, inexplicably, Carnegie, who was having trouble scoring at all, held the ball for the last 45 seconds of the period for the last shot, even though they were losing 15-9. They missed. The Warriors were looking good, holding Carnegie to 1 for 5 from 3-point range (#12), and shooting 50% themselves. The only negative for the good guys in the quarter were the two fouls on Price, who presence was very much needed to counter Carnegie’s full-court press.

The second was more Warriors, as it became increasingly clear that Wildcats did not have enough horsepower to win the game. A couple of things made the period interesting for those in attendance. The officials, wanting to make history, I guess, called the Warriors for a moving screen/block on a break-away layup by Senior forward Dustin Nichols. The player was merely trailing the play, but the ref saw a chance to take away Warrior points (it wouldn’t be the last). Instead of the Warriors having a 3-point play after Nichols was hit while shooting the layup, the officials called the foul on the good guys and took away the basket. I’ve never seen anything called like that in 40 years of watching basketball at all levels.

Amazing.....

The Wildcats came down on that possession and a Wildcat got lucky and BANKED in a 3-pointer from just left of the top of the key. (It always happens TO us!!) That was a six-point swing, which basically kept the final margin from being 20. The second thing was the Carnegie coach’s insistence on holding the ball even though they were behind. The Warriors had achieved their first double-digit lead at the 3:37 mark, 28-18, and Carnegie was really struggling to score at all. They only scored 11 points in the whole period – and that included the BANKED-in 3. But, Carnegie held the ball for the last 1:17 to take the last shot, even though they were down 12 points. They ended up with a tough, off-balance, baseline jump shot that missed. The only reason even conceivable is that the coach, knowing he couldn’t win, didn’t want to lose by 30.

Unbelievable.

At half time, WHS was up 32-20, and in complete control. If not for a couple of weird calls and some missed free throws, it would have been MUCH worse. WHS was 11 of 21 (52.4%) from the floor, including 2 of 3 (66.7%) from 3-point range. Zach Simmons was the leading scorer with 12 points, and he also had 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Nathan Price, while doing a wonderful job handling the Wildcat press, had 6 points, as did Rob Young – who was doing yoeman’s work on the Wildcat’s best (only) player. Dustin Nichols had 5 points in minutes that were extended due to Senior forward Tyler Ketner suffering from a stomach virus that limited his minutes and effectiveness. The Warriors had committed 8 fouls and only 6 turnovers, while attempting 14 free throws. Carnegie was 2 of 8 (25%) from the 3-point line – including the BANKED one in the second quarter. (He wasn’t AIMING glass – I assure you!) They had committed 9 fouls, grabbed 3 offensive rebounds, and had shot only 3 free throws.

The third quarter saw the Warriors extend their lead to 16, while effectively pulling the Wildcat’s teeth as they held them to 8 points. The Wildcats DID manage to make one 3-pointer, but it was their LAST one of the game, although they didn’t know it at the time. At the 3:17 mark, Simmons, with the ball at the top of the key, made a move to the basket, and with one dribble slam-dunked the ball with two hands right in the face of 3 Wildcats. The officials kept on trying, once taking a layup away from Price, calling him for a walk after he was staggered by a Wildcat trip.

The only other item worth mentioning in the period, is the Carnegie coach holding the ball (45 seconds) for the last shot, once again. This time, it was even worse. His team only scored 8 points in the whole quarter, and were now behind by 16 points, 44-28. After the deliberate stall, they turned it over. As said previously – unbelievable.

The fourth quarter was just playing out the string and not letting Carnegie get hot from the 3-point line – which was their ONLY hope of getting back in the game. The Warriors, due to some untimely free throw misses and some poor, quick shots, gave away some of their lead, but Carnegie never got closer than 11 points, and the final was WHS 59-46. It felt like twice that, as I’m sure it did to the Wildcats. I guess this year even the officials couldn’t make up the difference.

One final thought before going on to the numbers: I wonder if someone had to tell the Carnegie coach NOT to stall the last minute of the 4th. (With the beating they took, he probably wanted to...)

For the game, the Warriors shot 19 of 38 (50%), including 2 of 6 (33.3%) from 3-point range. They attempted 30 free throws, but converted on only 19 for a very average 63.3%. WHS collected 33 rebounds, of which 9 were on the offensive end. They blocked 7 shots (all by Simmons), had 7 steals, handed out 11 assists, committed 17 fouls, and turned the ball over 15 times.

Carnegie had 6 offensive rebounds, committed 24 fouls, attempted 14 free throws, and shot only 3 of 13 (23.1%) from the 3-point line – making NONE in the 4th quarter. They were never a serious threat after the first 5 minutes of the game. They showed their one-dimensional nature – and how impotent they were after that was taken away.

Zach Simmons was the player of the game, leading in scoring with 25 points, rebounding with 10, and blocked shots with 7. He dominated the paint and Carnegie had no answer for him. Point guard Nathan Price, who was crucial in handling the ball in the face of the Wildcat’s non-stop, full-court pressure, was next in scoring with 11 points, including 7 of 8 from the free throw line – most of them during the last couple of minutes as Carnegie was scrambling to foul. Price added a game-high 7 assists, 2 steals, and 5 rebounds as he played all 32 minutes – the only Warrior to do so.

Dustin Nichols had 9 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, and Rob Young scored a career-high 9 points while doing a great job on defense. His efforts on the Wildcats’ leading scorer were the main reason that Carnegie attempted only 13 shots from 3-point range – despite the fact that they trailed by double-digits for most of the game, AND, the 3-point line is their small team’s main weapon. Sophomore guard Jeff Brewer had 3 points, 2 steals, and 4 rebounds, while Tyler Ketner closed out the scoring with 2 points in minutes limited by illness. Sophomore guard Monty Marcum was the only other Warrior to see action, and he brought plenty of energy and defense while collecting a rebound and handing out one assist.

Bottom line: the Warriors had to play poorly just to keep the victory margin down to 13. They never had a lead of less than 11 points after the 3:00 minute mark of the second period. Take away a couple of the insane calls by the refs, a couple of missed Warrior layups, and a bunch of missed free throws – and the Warriors crush them by 30 points.   WHS definitely separated themselves from the pack with this win. Imagine what might have happened had the Wildcats actually played the full four quarters (they stalled for at least 4 minutes during the game).

The Warriors go on to face #6 Velma-Alma on Friday, the 29th, at the Great Plains Coliseum in Lawton. Game time is 8:00 p.m.

(For complete statistics, go to HANDOUTS, in the left column menu, and then click on this game’s link.)

   
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