By Andrew Glover
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Glencoe sophomore Hunter Hall hasn’t necessarily been a concern for opposing coaches in the state basketball tournament, with a combined total of 17 points in the first two games. Glencoe coach John Lazenby believed in his sophomore.
“I told the guys last night that Hunter Hall is due for a big game,” Lazenby said.
Hall proved his coach right, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the second-ranked Panthers to a 54-50 victory over the top-ranked Weleetka Outlaws in the Class A state championship game.
“We just started pounding the ball inside and I guess it was my time to step up,” Hall said.
Senior Kagen Castlebury only had one word to describe finishing his career as a champion.
“Indescribable,” Castlebury said, with tears of joy in his eyes.
Lazenby said the game lived up to the hype as his Panthers were ranked second.
“This is what a championship game should be like,” Lazenby said. “It should come down to the last possession or two. It shouldn’t be easy. I told my guys all I want is to have more points on our side than theirs when the final horn sounds. When the final horn went off, I was like, ‘By golly we did it.’”
Glencoe (31-1) scored the first seven points of the game, but Weleetka went on a 16-7 run and cut the lead to one. The Panthers led 26-22 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Hall carried the team on his back and made six of Glencoe’s next eight points, giving the Panthers their largest lead of the game at eight. The Outlaws responded with a 7-2 run and cut the Panthers’ lead to 38-35 after three.
The fourth quarter was a see-saw battle. Weleetka got within one twice. Hall made a jumper and then got a steal to up Glencoe’s lead to 44-39. Ty Lazenby pushed the lead to seven.
The Outlaws didn’t go away. Shaun Bencoma hit a 3-pointer and Caleb Wittman followed with a field goal, cutting Glencoe’s lead to two. Hall came through again to push the lead to four. Wittman hit a basket. In the last minute, with the Panthers ahead 51-49, Montana Gormly was fouled. Gormly sank the first free throw but missed the second and Ty Lazenby forcefully grabbed the rebound.
“They kept hitting shots and we kept hitting shots and they couldn’t catch up to us,” Hall said.
The Panthers led 53-50 after Lazenby made his first of two free throws. Coach Lazenby called a timeout to strategize the final seconds.
“I told them, ‘OK, Ty is going to make this one but if it comes off, we are going to foul, with a three-point lead we are going to put them on the line.”’
The coach’s son had a different plan.
“He goes, ‘I’m going to make this one and we are going to dog pile at center court,’” coach Lazenby said.
In one quick motion, Ty Lazenby hit the final free throw — nothing but net — and pumped his fist in celebration as he was going back on defense.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world,” Ty Lazenby said. “It was over and we were state champions.”
Coach Lazenby and his assistant coaches embraced. After the final buzzer, the reserves met the starters at center court in a dog pile. Castlebury knew the championship was the Panthers after Lazenby’s free throw swished.
“There was no way,” Castlebury said. “There was no way we were going to lose. We worked way too hard every day.”
Although Ty Lazenby hit the key free throws at the end of the game, he didn’t have as strong of a game offensively, with only 10 points on 3 for 8 shooting. The sophomore said he is grateful for players like Hall.
“That’s why we are here,” Ty Lazenby said. “We probably wouldn’t have even made it to state. Not every person on the team can have a great game. We have more people that can step up.”
The Panthers only lose three seniors — Castlebury, Taylor Cavett and Jake Corbin.