By Andrew Glover
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Early in the second quarter, it looked like the Class B state semifinals game was slipping away from the Coyle Bluejackets as they trailed the Red Oak Eagles by double digits.
Coach Josh Sumrall knew who to turn to create a spark — senior move-in Eric Harris.
“I told him it’s time,” Sumrall said.
Harris made it his time as his 27 points helped Coyle rally to a 69-62 victory at Jim Norick State Fair Arena.
“I don’t mind being a bench player,” Harris said. “I told coach I will be his spark off the bench. That’s what I’ve been doing all season giving the team a lift.”
Sumrall said his team has a lot of weapons and was pleased with how Harris came through.
“He’s the reason we are still playing on Saturday,” Sumrall said. “When you have a player like that it can really be a big lift.”
Turnovers and missed shots plagued the Bluejackets early and the Eagles took full advantage. With the inside scoring of Dylan Fazekas and the outside shooting of Devan Crose, Red Oak jumped out to a 20-7 lead in the first and led 23-15 at the end of the quarter. Fazekas scored seven points and Crose hit two 3-pointers to total 10 points.
Then entered Harris, who hit jumper after jumper and made several layups. In the second quarter, the move-in from Chicago scored 11 points to help Coyle get back in the game. Tony Aska also made a basket and hit a pair of free throws. Ryan Weathers hit a 3-pointer to spark a 14-2 run and cut the Eagles lead to one. Red Oak led 37-35 at halftime.
“We didn’t like the fact that we were down by two at halftime,” Harris said. “I told the guys we need to clamp down defensively. We have nothing to lose. This is my last shot and all the seniors. Let’s go and play our hearts out”
The Bluejackets’ momentum continued in the second half. Harris stole the ball and scored a layup. After a defensive stop, Aska scored on an offensive rebound. On Coyle’s ensuing possession, Aska was fouled and hit both free throws to give the Bluejackets a 45-44 lead. Another basket from Harris and a basket from senior Fidel Simpson gave Coyle its largest lead of the game at 50-44.
Aska scored a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Sumrall said he challenged Aska at halftime.
“He responded well,” Sumrall said. “He got that dunk and got everyone’s juices flowing. He kind of spread us out (from Red Oak),”
Red Oak (27-4) got as close as three in the fourth quarter but Coyle’s 10 of 13 from the free throw line put the game away. Fazekas led the Eagles with 23. Crose followed with 22.
Simpson stepped up in the second half with 10 of his 12 points. The Bluejackets (25-4) will play Arnett for the state championship at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in State Fair Arena. Harris said the team is looking forward to it.
“I’m ready,” Harris said. “I’m sure my team will be too.”
Sumrall said he hopes his team shows up to play.
“We have a lot of weapons and I plan on using them all tomorrow.”