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  My Site News: Warriors Advance to Dance – Beat Carnegie, 57-50  

Monday, March 4
Warriors Advance to Dance – Beat Carnegie, 57-50
This game was originally scheduled for last Saturday at the Great Plains Coliseum, but was postponed by Friday’s ice storm. The game was played Monday night, the 4th, and not at the Coliseum, but at the Lawton Senior High Gymnasium. There were two games and four teams involved in the evening’s action. The gym was barely big enough for two.

In a word: it was PACKED! Seats, let alone GOOD seats, were very hard to come by.

Washington squared off against the Carnegie Wildcats, the same team they had defeated ten days previously in the Regional Championship. The winner would advance to the State Tournament – the loser would go home. It is difficult enough at tournament time to defeat a good opponent once – but twice was pushing matters to the extreme. The Warriors were coming off their worst performance of the year (the coach’s words, not mine) against Velma-Alma, so the outlook was bleak. The Wildcats are a small, quick, perimeter team that a great defensive effort in the first game had held to 3 of 13 from 3-point range. A repeat performance in that statistic was vital if the Warriors were to prevail.

The first quarter, while the scoring was not high, at least had an offensive flow to it. The Warriors took a 10-4 lead, but saw it cut to 10-8 as the period ended. Neither team had even attempted a 3-point shot. Plus, holding a lead was crucial for the Warriors, because they knew that if Carnegie ever got the lead, they would stall – and they were too quick to catch.

The second stanza started with a Wildcat bucket that tied the score at 10. Thirty seconds later, Senior center Zach Simmons picked up his second foul. At the 6:10 mark, Sophomore guard Jeff Brewer hit the first 3-pointer of the game, putting WHS up, 15-10. One minute later, he hit the only other Warrior 3-pointer of the evening, giving WHS an 18-10 advantage. Carnegie held the ball the last 45 seconds of the half to have the last shot, even though they were down by five. They missed, and the halftime score was 22-17.

At the half, WHS was 9 of 21 (42.9%) from the floor, including 2 of 3 (66.7%) from 3-point range. They had attempted only two free throws, had committed 9 turnovers, and been called for 9 fouls. Simmons, Senior point guard Nathan Price, and Brewer all had 6 points. Simmons also had 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Carnegie had one offensive rebound, had attempted 9 free throws, and had been whistled for 6 fouls. The most important statistic was that they were 0 for 4 from behind the 3-point line.

The third quarter saw the Warriors score the first five points, and take their first double-digit lead of the game, 27-17, at the 6:33 mark. At the six minute mark, Price made a hard move to the basket and was fouled hard, drawing the two free throws. The Wildcat player said something profane to Price (the Wildcats, despite trailing most of the game, were quite “talkative”), to which he said something like, ‘look at the scoreboard.’ The official, of course, saw only the second player, and Price was hit with a technical foul – which he deserved. Price made both of his free throws, then the best Carnegie player – ironically the same one with the foul mouth – missed both of the technical shots. Carnegie did not score until the 1:49 mark of the quarter, which brought them to 33-20. WHS had their biggest lead of the game at the 1:00 mark, 36-20. The quarter ended, 36-22, as Carnegie could only score 5 in the quarter. That gave the Warriors the lead they would need to survive the Wildcats’ final assault.

The Warriors scored first in the period, and it went back and forth with WHS holding about a 10-12 point lead. But then the Warriors started turning the ball over, giving up opportunities to run precious minutes off of the clock. When the Warriors would get into their offensive sets, they would get good shots, and score about 80% of the time, but the Carnegie pressure pushed them into mistakes, and hurried them into bad decisions – exactly the reason FOR the pressure. Finally, to make things worse for the good guys, Carnegie hit a couple of 3-pointers, the last cutting the lead to 48-42. To make things EVEN worse, WHS missed about 10 free throws in the quarter that would have made the ending not NEAR as dramatic! Senior forward Tyler Ketner stepped up and knocked down 4 straight free throws, and Price made 6 of 8 toward the end, and that was enough. The Warriors won, 57-50, and advanced to the State Tournament.

For the game, the Warriors shot poorly, going 14 of 34 for 41.2%, including 2 of 5 (40%) from 3-point range. They shot 27 of 40 (67.5%) from the free throw line, but missed many crucial ones in the fourth quarter during close-out time. There were WAY TOO MANY turnovers that were the result of bad decisions, but in all fairness, some of those are to be expected against the suffocating, non-stop pressure that the Wildcats bring for 32 minutes.

WHS gathered 40 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass, handed out 11 assists, made 6 steals, blocked 9 shots, committed 17 turnovers, and got called for 19 fouls (but no one fouled out). They held Carnegie to 5 offensive rebounds and only 2 of 12 (16.7%) from 3-point range. Carnegie committed 28 fouls, fouling out three, and attempted 19 free throws.

Senior point guard Nathan Price was the leading scorer with 16 points, including 12 of 14 (85.7%) from the free throw line. He added a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals, while playing all 32 minutes – again the only Warrior to do so. Senior Zach Simmons had 15 points (on only 8 shot attempts), a game-high 6 blocked shots, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a game-high 18 rebounds – including 2 big ones in the fourth quarter after missed Warrior free throws. Senior Tyler Ketner scored 15 points, including 4 straight from the line in crunch time, along with 8 rebounds. Sophomore Jeff Brewer had 7 points, including the only two Warrior 3-pointers in the game – while recording his first career blocked shot, as he stuffed a Wildcat on a transition layup attempt. Senior guard Rob Young scored a couple of points, recorded his own blocked shot (his second of the season), while once again playing ferocious defense on Labrada, the best Wildcat player – holding him to NO 3-point field goals. The scoring was closed out by Senior forward Dustin Nichols with one point and 7 rebounds, and Sophomore guard Monty Marcum with one point and some good defense of his own.

The Warriors pull the Wildcats biggest teeth – their 3-point shooting, handle their non-stop pressure, and take the win, beating Carnegie for the second time – sending them home.

The key, once again, to this victory over the Wildcats was defense – especially from the 3-point line. Carnegie was held to 2 of 12 in that regard, and both makes were too late to make a difference in the final outcome. The Warriors did NOT play well offensively, from shooting 42% from the field, to TOO many turnovers from bad decisions, to Simmons only getting 8 shots. Those areas will HAVE to be corrected if they are to win Thursday, the 7th, versus Latta.

So, the Warriors go to the Big Dance at the Norman High School gym, in Norman, which happens to be where Price has lived his entire life. WHS played Latta in a preseason scrimmage, and they are a rough and tumble team with a 6-6 post man. It should be a good game, with defensive intensity being the key – once again – for a Warriors victory.
(As of this posting, the game time was unknown.)

On to the BIG DANCE!!

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

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