By Derek Brown
Stillwater News Press
BIXBY, Okla. —
The regional opener was not what Stillwater had in mind when it took the court against Sand Springs.
No. 11 ranked Stillwater suffered a season ending loss on Friday at Bixby to the Sandites by a bucket 54-42.
“I felt like our guys wanted it. I felt like Sand Springs did some things down the stretch to cement the victory for them,” Stillwater coach Michael Davis said.
Stillwater struggled beyond the arc going 1 of 16 from 3-point land. The Pioneers’ first 3-pointer was not until the 2:04 mark left in the game.
“We still had a chance. We missed five free throws and we missed easy baskets,” Davis said.
The Pioneers trailed by 16 nearing the end of the third quarter. A furious rally in the final frame saw Sand Springs’ lead cut down to 54-52 after Jared Dickey made a layup with 10 seconds to go.
Sand Springs’ Mack Thompson was called to the free throw line with 1.8 seconds to go for two shots. Thompson missed both attempts and Stillwater’s Jake Green launched a three-quarter court prayer that banged off of the backboard to end the game in the Sandites’ favor.
“They haven’t given up. They’ve fought all year,” Davis said. “We knew we could come back.”
Green led the Pioneer charge with 20 points on the night.
“Jake played to win. He wanted this game. He played to win,” Davis said.
Carson Teel added nine points and Trey Holcomb chipped in seven in the loss.
For the Stillwater seniors it was the last time that they would put on the blue and yellow.
“This senior class has been unbelievable,” Davis said. “They’ve been pretty good. I’m going to miss this senior class.”
Stillwater finished its season at 17-7 overall.
Sand Springs’ Josh Lattie led the Sandites with 15 points. Ashton Palmer added 13 for Sand Springs. Evan Perry scored 11 in the Sand Springs victory.
From the start, it was not what Stillwater had hoped for. The first quarter was a low-scoring dual with Sand Springs taking a 12-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
The second quarter was not much different. At the break, Sand Springs held a bucket lead at 18-16.
Stillwater had zero 3-point shots in the first half. Teel had just one bucket on 1 of 8 shooting from the field. Green led Stillwater with six points on 3 of 5 shooting in the first two quarters.
Sand Springs had 11 turnovers in the first compared to Stillwater’s five. The difference was shooting in the first half.
Right out of the locker room, Sand Springs came out firing. Nearing the end of the third quarter Sand Springs found itself in a 37-21 lead. The Sandites allowed the Pioneers 13 points in the quarter but Sand Springs poured in 23 to take a 41-29 advantage into the final quarter.
Sand Springs’ Lattie picked up his fourth foul with 4:30 left in the third quarter. Lattie was the Sandites’ go to player before that time.
Stillwater’s Brown fouled out with 3:43 to play in the game.
Teel hit the Pioneers’ first 3-point shot in the game with 2:04 to play to pull to 49-44.
Stillwater’s rally fell just two points short, which was just enough to force the Pioneers to pack up their basketballs until next year. “They didn’t want their season to end,” Davis said. “That’s the sad thing about this playoff system is you can have a great season and in 5A and 6A you’re one and done.”