CHECOTAH---“It was one of the worst halves of basketball I’ve had in my coaching career.”
Wagoner basketball coach Zack Ange pretty well tells the story as the Bulldogs were shut out 19-0 in the first quarter Saturday night by the East Central Cardinals. The hole was too big for Ange's bunch to climb out of as they fell 72-58 in a foul-plagued finals of the Crossroads Classic Tournament at the Checotah Event Center.
Wagoner (6-6) was 0-for-6 from the field in the first quarter and turned the ball over five times as the speedy Cardinals (7-4) were able to capitalize. Though the Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard 10 minutes into the game, it was too little too late as the Bulldogs trailed at intermission 35-19.
“I just don’t know what to think,” said Ange. “We’re so up and down right now. We’ve played a tough schedule and lost to some 6A and 5A teams and we’ve beaten a couple of 5A teams as well. But there was just a lot of frustration tonight and we’ve just got to learn to overcome adversity.”
To say the game was hotly contested would be an understatement. The game officials wore their whistles out calling a total of 41 fouls, 23 on the Bulldogs, which resulted in three players fouling out for Wagoner. In addition, the Bulldogs were assessed three technical fouls in the game and there were multiple spectators tossed out of the arena for mouthing off.
As a result, the game was ultimately decided at the free-throw line where the Cardinals were 24-of-38 while Wagoner was just 10-of-16.
After seeing the deficit grow to 24 points, the Bulldogs showed some spark late in the third quarter as they went on a 12-2 run to end the quarter down 51-37 which would be about as close as Wagoner would come to the Cardinals.
“Our boys fought hard and I was pleased with the way we bounced back some in the second half. We were down by 24 and came back to close it to 14 at the end so I was pleased with the effort. I just don’t know why it took so long to do that.”
Caden Pawpa scored 20 points for the Bulldogs and was joined in double figures by Bristo Love who had 16 while East Central’s Xavier Lucas took game-high honors with 24 points including 9-of-13 from the charity stipe.
The next scheduled action for the Bulldogs will be a trip to Locust Grove on Monday.