By Nick Hampton
PORTER – The school calendar may have turned another year, but the beat just goes on for Porter’s Jacob Richardson, last year’s All-Phoenix basketball MVP.
With at least one area college coach looking on, Richardson poured in 35 points, but needed some clutch free-throw shooting from teammate Brandon Fowler to help the Pirates fend off the pesky Okay Mustangs 58-50 Monday night in Porter.
The Mustangs used several defenses to try and slow down Richardson and were somewhat successful in the first half. But the second half was a different story.
“He can score anytime he wants. Most of the time he didn’t score it was because he didn’t want to,” said Okay coach Chad Clark. “Our plan was to double him every time he caught it and stop his penetration and hope he misses the jump shot. And it worked in the first half. But they made some adjustments to get him to the rim more in the second half and that, plus our turnovers (17), was the difference.”
Down 19-16 at halftime, the Mustangs charged out of the gate in the third quarter to outscore the Pirates 12-3 and lead 28-22 with 2:25 left in the third quarter, thanks to the play of Nigel King and Zac Cagle who had seven points each in the quarter and Dakota Hayley who had a pair of three-pointers. The Pirates got the last five points of the quarter to trail 28-27.
With the Mustangs still up by one at 46-45 halfway through the third quarter, the game turned on a series of steals and seven straight points by Richardson to put the Pirates (7-1) on top to stay at 52-46 with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter. After Okay cut two points off that deficit, Fowler calmly stepped up and canned six straight free throws down the stretch to make it 58-48 and put the game away for the Pirates.
“We know Brandon can shoot free throws. He’s probably our best free throw shooter, even better than Jacob,” said Pirate coach Jason Jack. “He stepped up and hit some clutch free throws and we needed that because we didn’t have a very good night shooting from the perimeter.”
Even though he had 14 points at the half, Richardson wasn’t pleased with his play in the opening two quarters.
“The first half I just wasn’t attacking very much,” he said. “I guess, and was relying on the jump shot too much. Coach told us at halftime to cut and attack more in the second half and I think that’s what did it for us.”
The Pirates stepped up the defensive pressure in the second half as well and forced 12 Okay turnovers which helped Richardson get several break-away layups. Besides Richardson, Fowler was the only other Pirate in double figures with 13 points. The Mustangs (2-4) were paced by Noah Eastwood with 18 points on the night while King added 13 and Cagle had 11.
The Pirates will play at Braggs tonight while Okay travels to Oktaha this evening to finish out the pre-holiday portion of the schedule for both teams.
Porter 61 Okay 34
The Lady Pirates broke a 38-game losing streak dating back nearly two years and recorded their first win for new coach Bill Nobles as Cierra Richardson put in 28 points for Porter, now 1-6 on the season.
“It was nice to get that win behind us because now we can think about winning instead of when we’ll break the losing streak,” said Nobles.
The Lady Mustangs (5-4) were their own worst enemy as they committed 32 turnovers in the game. Porter led 29-8 at halftime but Okay battled back to start the third quarter as they went on an 11-2 run to cut the Pirate lead to 12 at 31-19. But the Lady Mustangs would score only four more points in the quarter while Porter countered with 13 points to lead 44-23 after three and outscored Okay 17-11 in the final stanza for the win.
Lacy Smith had 14 points to go with Richardson’s 28 and Dominque Garcia added 12 for the Lady Pirates. Bristen Graves and Robyn Hamner paced Okay with 10 points each.