By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It may not be Gallagher-Iba Arena, but the Pioneer Fieldhouse is quickly becoming the house of horrors for opposing teams across the state.
Don’t believe it, just ask Lawton Eisenhower and Edmond North.
Two top five teams have come into Stillwater looking to bolster their resumes — both left licking their wounds after the Pioneers beat Edmond North 86-77 Friday.
“We’re unbeatable at home,” Stillwater junior Brett Budke said. “It’s our home court and we really believe that nobody can come in here and take us down. We’re not intimidated by anybody in our own house.”
Six Pioneers reached double figures — led by Rico Thompson, who finished with 19 points and 11 assists — as the Pioneers (6-3) offense never gave the Huskies a chance, shooting 58 percent from the field.
“That’s really impressive,” Stillwater coach Michael Davis said. “I didn’t know that we had six guys in double figures, but that’s a tribute to those guys and all the work they put in during those Christmas break practices.”
Freshman Jordan Brown got the Pioneers going, scoring all 10 of his points in the span of about 8 minutes as Stillwater took a 37-31 lead into halftime.
Budke knocked down four 3-pointers — all of them in the second half — en route to 14 points while helping spark Stillwater’s offense at the start of the second half.
“It just got our offense going early and it gave us the confidence to go on and win the game,” Budke said.
Budke may have given Stillwater a boost, but it wasn’t always easy. The Pioneers saw their lead dwindle to three midway through the third quarter before Stillwater went on a 13-6 run to take a 59-49 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Even when the Pioneers faced a little adversity following Caleb Watkins’ intentional foul, the young Stillwater squad didn’t get rattled. Instead, younger players like Carson Teel and Budke stepped up and took control.
“We work on game situations every day,” Davis said. “And we’re going to continue to work on them because that’s something that we have to get better at. We’re a young team. Rico is the only guy that played for us a lot last year, so we’re going to have to keep working on those game situations.”
With the Huskies perpetually trying to play catch-up, Thompson knocked down 11 of 14 free throws — most of them in the fourth quarter to keep Edmond North from ever mounting a comeback.
The win over Edmond North may be big for Stillwater’s momentum heading into the second half of the season, but the Pioneers have already turned their attention to the East Central Oklahoma Classic coming up next week.
“It’s huge for us,” Davis said. “You enjoy it and take what you need to from it. As a coach, we’re never satisfied — that’s part of my job. That’s why we have to practice and find things to work on. Our defense and rotations weren’t like they were supposed to be but we’ll get some things fixed when we come back to practice on Sunday.”
Along with Budke and Thompson, Watkins hit 5 of 6 shots for 11 points while Teel also tallied 11 points and 4 rebounds. Jared Dickey scored 12 points and Brown finished with 10 points after going 4 of 4 from the field and 2 of 2 from the charity stripe.