MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

December 15, 2012

Oktaha boys hold off Haymakers for sweep

— OKTAHA – Everything is still perfect at Oktaha as the boys and girls basketball teams pulled off wins on Friday night against Haskell.

The boys drew the toughest game of the evening as the Haymakers came from 17 points down in the fourth quarter before falling to the Tigers 70-65, the smallest winning margin Oktaha has had so far this year.

The Tigers led by three, 19-16, after the first quarter and outscored the visitors 10-4 to open the second quarter to stretch the lead to nine, thanks to the shooting of Christian McIntosh and Dustin Leach who combined for 10 of the 17 points in the quarter. But the Haymakers hung in there and fought back to trail by only three, 36-33, at intermission.

Oktaha, No. 2 in Okrankings.com Class 2A poll, streaked out of the gate in the third quarter with a 14-4 run and maintained a 13-point margin heading into the final eight minutes.

It looked like the Tigers were on their way to a fairly easy win with a 61-44 advantage with 3:47 to play in regulation. But not so fast.

“I told the guys in a time out, they’re going to come and try to strip the ball from us so you’ve got to be strong,” said Tigers coach Jim Glover. “And that’s what they did and we didn’t handle the pressure very well.”

With the quick hands of Haskell point guard Alex Wheeland creating several Oktaha turnovers, the Haymakers, with Wheeland scoring 16 of his game-high 24 points in the final quarter, began chipping away at the lead, but still trailed by 10 with just under two minutes to go. Haskell outscored the Tigers 8-3 over that last stretch, but ran out of clock.

The Haymakers (2-2) suffered a blow early when their starting wide body inside, Rylee Atwell, went down with a leg injury and did not return, forcing a change in strategy.

“It always hurts when you lose a starter,” said first-year Haskell coach Jay Dixon. “So we changed our format and went with a faster five and it worked for us and we were able to make a game of it as best we could.”

The Tigers (8-0) used a balanced scoring attack and a deep bench to notch the victory, but Glover says there’s still work to do.

“When someone’s in an all-out press and desperate, you’ve got to be strong with the basketball and we didn’t do that tonight,” Glover said. “Otherwise we played a pretty good game. I was particularly pleased with the rebounding of Devon Fry and McIntosh was our offensive spark plug in the first half.”

Senior point guard Blake Pittman led the way for the Tigers with 19 points followed closely by Leach and McIntosh with 17  each. Besides Wheeland, the Haymakers got a great game out of post man Michael Love with 21 points.

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