By Andrew Glover
RED ROCK, Okla. —
The Frontier Mustangs were clear underdogs to the 2A state powerhouse Pawnee Black Bears. The Mustangs held their own but came up short in a 61-46 loss.
“We played hard and competed a little better,” Frontier coach Bob Weckstein said. “We are getting better but are still making young mistakes.”
Pawnee coach David Page said his team didn’t play as well because it was experimenting with things to prepare for postseason.
“We worked on a 1-3-1 trap,” Page said. “We ran less full court press. I tried to play nine guys in each quarter. We played with lineups we never played before.”
The Black Bears’ physicality in the post made the difference as they grabbed several second chance opportunities.
“We weren’t strong enough to keep up with them on the boards,” Weckstein said. “They got several second chance buckets. When we got close in the third quarter, we just had one turnover after another.”
The first quarter was very competitive. The Mustangs’ outside shooting helped them stay within striking distance and gain some small leads. Landon Norman nailed 3 3-pointers for nine of Frontier’s 16 points. Most of the Black Bears’ scoring came in the paint and six different players scored in the quarter. Pawnee led 18-16.
Momentum shifted toward Pawnee as Norman committed his third foul in the first half and sat out the entire second quarter. The Black Bears scored 10 unanswered points to hold a 24-16 lead and led by as many as 12.
In the second half, the Mustangs were able to rally and cut Pawnee’s lead to five. The Black Bears regrouped and brought their lead back to double digits at the end of the quarter. Page said he was pleased with how physical his team played.
“It was a great win for us,” Page said. “Frontier always plays hard.”
Kyle Smith led Pawnee in scoring with 17. Ryland Moore and Gideon Gardner reached double digits with 10 and 12 points respectively. Norman scored a game-high 20 points. Talon Harris followed with 11. Weckstein said he hopes his team can use this game in the future.
“Getting to go against big 2A schools is good for us,” Weckstein said. “Hopefully when we start playing Class A schools it will help us compete better.”