By Eric Shannon
Sophomore Deshay Bear may be the most popular person in Checotah after Friday night.
All he did was pump in 10 overtime points — two of them 3-pointers from the right corner — to sting Hilldale 77-63 in overtime. Bear finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“He shot really well,” first-year Checotah coach Jason Dowdy said. “Our guys did a good job, but so did Hilldale. We had a couple of guys come off the bench and play well on defense. We are trying to sell our guys on defense.”
Bear and the Wildcats (4-0) face Stilwell at 8:30 p.m. for the championship. Meanwhile, Hilldale plays Grove at 5:30 p.m. in the third-place game.
“That’s going to be a tough game as they’re hard to match up with,” Dowdy said.
Hilldale’s Hunter Harrison and Bill Muse, Jr. waited until the fourth quarter before they made their presence felt, and they did it with a combined 16 points to bring the Hornets back from as much as 12 points down in the final period and tie the game at 57 to force overtime.
In the extra period, Bear went to work with two quick 3-pointers then Braylon Warrior sealed the victory with four free throws in the final minute.
The Hornets came out like gangbusters as Harrision and Muse both drained 3-pointers to build a 8-2 lead with 4:04 left in the first quarter. But the Wildcats fought back with behind Derick White and Deshawn Jackson’s combined nine points and 10 second-quarter rebounds for a 24-18 halftime lead.
The Wildcats’ Braylon Warrior led all scoring with 22 points. Jackson pulled down 14 rebounds for a double-double to go with his 14 points.
Harrison led the Hornets with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
“My hat’s off to Hilldale, but I’m proud of our guys and the way they played,” Dowdy said.
Grove 51, Hilldale 40
Mason Jefferies led the Grove Ridgeruners with 12 points and a 36-point burst in the second half to beat the host Hilldale Lady Hornets 51-40 at the Hilldale Tournament on Friday night.
The Lady Hornets play Grove at 4 p.m. today in the third-place game.
”I am very proud of our girls and the way we played,” Hilldale coach Scott Hensley. “Grove has a very good team and some tough post players and we had a hard time matching up with them tonight.”
Julie Plunkett popped a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the game to make things interesting and pull the Lady Hornets (2-2) within 47-40. But Hilldale was unable to get any closer to the Ridgerunners. The Lady Hornets were in the game until the game’s final minute when the Ridgeruners ran off 14-5 run.
Despite a valiant effort led by Leah Gragg’s 10 points and freshman Katie Kirkhart’s eight points, the Lady Hornets couldn’t overcome cold shooting. Shooting just 23 percent from the field, the Lady Hornets dug a hole that they couldn’t overcome.
“When you play as many freshman and sophomores as we do sometimes, you’re just going to have those nights and struggle in places,” Hensley said. “Defensively, we played really hard and kept after them all night.”
A tenacious Lady Hornet defense that forced 20 turnovers and Jessica Vanschuyer’s 14 rebounds kept the Hilldale in the game. But it only connected on three shots from the field in the final quarter.
Shaking off some offensive rust, Casady Miles stepped up and drained a 3-pointer to start a run for the Lady Hornets that put them up 13-11 with 2:56 to go in the second quarter. Kirkhart nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing with just under 17 seconds and the Lady Hornets led 18-15 at halftime.
After that short burst of offense, the Lady Hornets again found points hard to come by until Gragg chipped in seven of her 10 points in the final two quarters.
Grove had two other players finish in double figures with Emily Cook scoring 11 points while Karah Bassett added 10.
In other Hilldale tournament games, Stilwell’s boys and Morris’ girls advanced to the finals with their wins. Stilwell beat Grove 49-38, while Morris defeated Roland 55-50.
In Stilwell’s win, 6-foot-9 Matt Lea had 13 points and Chase Littlejohn scored 10. Robin Hicks led Morris with 17, while Sara Crenshaw had 14 and Bailey King added 13. Grove’s boys and Roland’s girls play for third place at 5:30 p.m. today.
In the consolation bracket, Rejoice Christian’s boys beat Roland JV 65-57 in overtime as Taylor Wise had 21 points, while Stilwell eliminated Checotah 42-34 despite the Lady Wildcats’ Kelsea Johnson scoring 14 and KIley Woodsward adding 12.