By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Motivation to play wasn’t a problem for Anthony King and the Muskogee Roughers in the Large School Boys semifinal at Ron Milam Gym on Friday night.
King and the Roughers were playing Dustin Givens, the father of sophomore Aaron Givens, who died last week. King, a junior, scored a game-high 22 points as the Roughers topped the McAlester Buffaloes 69-41 to advance to tonight’s final at 9 p.m. against the Jenks Trojans at the Mukogee Civic Center.
“I wanted to play hard for Dustin because he was my second cousin,” King said. “It was hard and emotional playing, but I wanted to play with a passion.”
Players wore t-shirts honoring Dustin Givens with his old uniform No. 44. He graduated from Muskogee in 1991.
“This game was a tribute to Dustin,” first-year MHS coach Joshua Berry said. “I could see the players were motivated because they played hard for four quarters.”
If the Roughers didn’t have enough incentive, they knew a win would put them in the finals against Jenks. The Trojans, coached by former Muskogee coach Clay Martin and the defending tournament champion in the Large School Division, beat Sequoyah 67-55 in the other semifinal. Jenks defeated McAlester for the championship last year and just a week ago, topped the Roughers 70-52 at Ron Milam Gymnasium.
“We’ve got another shot at them,” Berry said. “To also play them for the Shrine title is also an honor.”
Darrion Brown and Todd Dawkins led McAlester (3-7) in scoring with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
McAlester faces Sequoyah at 1:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center for third place.
JENKS 67, SEQUOYAH 55 – Sequoyah came in hoping to lower the hammer on 6A Jenks. But the loss of their own Hammer plus another starter spelled doom as the Trojans, ranked No 6 in 6A by Okrankings.com knocked off the 3A No. 15 Indians at the Civic Center.
After Jenks (7-3) jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, the Indians (6-4) came back to eventually tie the game four times in the first and early second quarter, the last at 17-17. Jenks outscored Sequoyah 10-3 over the next five minutes to grab a 27-20 lead it would never relinquish with 1:50 left in the half. The Indians fought back to make it a five point game at 29-24 Jenks going into the locker room
The third quarter started ominously for Sequoyah as starter BJ Leach, who had six points in the first half, did not return after injuring his knee before halftime. And the Indians senior playmaker Niko Hammer drew his fourth personal foul early in the third quarter and had to sit.
“We are a deep team but still when you lose two of your front line players that’s a problem,” said Indians coach Jay Herrin. ”I do have some kids off the bench who are good players but when we lose those starters it messes up our rotation so that did hurt us.”
Jenks 6-5 center Luke Phillips led the way for the Trojans with 19 points including 11 of 16 free throws. The Trojans move on to play Muskogee the finals tonight at 9 at the Civic Center while Sequoyah will play Hilldale for the consolation championship at 1:30 at the Civic Center.
– Nick Hampton
SPIRO 72, HASKELL 51 – The Bulldogs (8-5) were just too athletic for the Haymakers in the 72-51 win in the Small School Boys semifinal at Muskogee High School’s Ron Milam Gymnasium.
Four players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs with McKinley Whitfield leading the way with 18 points. He had eight of that in the third quarter.
The others were Tim Perry (16), Jermaine Jimmerson (14) and Knighe Rhoden (10).
Alex Wheeland scored a team-high 13 points and 6-foot-6 Michael Love added 12 for the Haymakers. Wheeland also had eight assists and two steals, while Love had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Spiro led 23-14 after the first quarter and then ripped the Haymakers 21-7 in the second period for a 44-21 halftime advantage.
The Haymakers are in the Civic Center at 10:30 a.m. today against Hulbert in the third place game.
The Bulldogs play Oktaha at 6 p.m. today at the Civic Center for the championship.
– Kenton Brooks
OKTAHA 66, HULBERT 58 – Picking on an opponent’s injured player is sometimes a good strategy for victory. But it didn’t work out so well for the Hulbert Riders as they fell to the undefeated and 2A No. 2 Oktaha at the Civic Center.
Oktaha senior point guard Blake Pittman, still nursing a dislocated shoulder, couldn’t find the range from the field for the Tigers, going 0 for 10 on the night. But in an effort to close a 10-point gap in the fourth quarter, the Riders decided to pick on the struggling Pittman by fouling him. There, he turned on them as he sank 10 of 12 from the line in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers to the win.
Dustin Leach picked up the slack from the field as he tallied 23 points in the game and acknowledged the value of teamwork.
“Our offense and defense both struggled tonight but we pulled through,” said Leach. “That’s what good teams do and we were glad to get the win.”
Hulbert actually led early in the second half, but the Tigers(13-0) went on an 11-6 run and led by eight 43-35 after three quarters.
Chris Vance led the scoring for Hulbert (2-5) with 15 points while Christian McIntosh with 14, Pittman with 12 and Caleb Shoemake with 10 were in double figures for the Tigers, who will defend their Small School title against Spiro at 6 tonight at the Civic Center.
– Nick Hampton