By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Whatever Haskell coach Wes Hayes said to his Haymakers at halftime must have had its effect.
Haskell turned a seven-point deficit at intermission to a 73-56 win over the Oktaha Tigers in the semifinal of the Small School boys at Ron Milam Gymnasium on Friday.
The Haymakers (6-2) trailed the Tigers (2-5) 31-24 heading into the locker room but tuned up the defense in the third quarter, forcing seven turnovers in the period to grab a 53-42 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
“We had a Pentecostal revival at the half and came to the agreement that were underachieving as a team defensively,” Hayes said. “You’ve got to give Oktaha credit. They played well in the first half and we were a day late and a dollar short across the board in the first half.”
Once the Haymakers seized control of the game, they kept the pressure on by forcing another seven turnovers and making eight of nine free throws. Chris Wright led the Haymakers with 24 points, followed closely by Micah Hayes with 23 and Alex Wheeland with 15 while Logan Gragg and Dustin Leach took scoring honors for the Tigers with 19 and 15 points, respectively.
“When they turned the press on us, we didn’t handle it every while,” said Oktaha coach Jim Glover. “We’re real inexperienced and we just got to get better at that.”
When Wright took the floor to start the second half, he was well aware of what it was going to take to pull out the win.
“I was just trying to make stuff happen,” he said. “Coach said always go 110 miles per hour and I was just trying to do my best and get our team back in the game.”
With the win, Haskell will play defending champion Spiro at 6 p.m. in the championship game at the Muskogee Civic Center. Oktaha, who made the finals last season, faces Hulbert in the third-place game at 10:30 a.m. at the Civic Center.
Spiro 82, Hulbert 45
Class 3A’s fourth-ranked Bulldogs looked like a team that should be playing in the large school division as they used full-court pressure to convert six Hulbert turnovers into points in the first two minutes before the Riders knew what hit them and jumped out to a 16-2 lead.
“They’re just good all-around and they’ve got speed that we just haven’t seen,” said Hulbert head coach Dustin Gist. “We adjusted somewhat in the second half and played better, but they didn’t press us as much either.”
Leading 29-10, the undefeated Bulldogs (8-0) went on a 14-0 run to really break things open early in the second quarter. The much quicker and stronger Bulldogs got 24 points from 6-foot-4 junior forward McKinley Whitfield while Timothy Perry with 14 and Tyquan Seymour with 10 joined McKinley in double figures.
The Riders (5-3) had two players in double digits with Parker Taylor knocking down 15 points on the night and Mason Fielden adding 14.
Small School Boys
Seventh-place game, Hilldale JV vs. Porter, Hilldale HS, 10:30 a.m.
Consolation final, Summit Christian vs. OKC Santa Fe South, Muskogee HS, 10:30 a.m.
Hulbert vs. Oktaha, Muskogee CC, 10:30 a.m.
Finals, Spiro vs. Haskell, CC, 6 p.m.