Rivalry Friday in area high school basketball produced a stunning head-turner that blasted through the Class 2A landscape with seismic tremor.
Following are summaries of the area contests.
Boys: Nowata 55, Oklahoma Union 30
Nowata High’s boys’ basketball team pumped its emotional fuel tank full with intensity on Friday night.
The Ironmen felt disrespected, undervalued and just plain cantankerous toward visiting Oklahoma Union High, the defending Class 2A state champion.
On paper, Oklahoma Union appeared as the favorite. Nowata had eaten loss after loss the past few years against the Cougars.
But, Nowata was determined it wouldn’t happen again, at least not Friday.
Paced by a barrage of three-point shots and squeezing second half defense, Nowata walked away with the 55-30 Homecoming win and rare supremacy of Nowata County boys’ basketball.
“We defended really, really well,” said Nowata head coach Nathan Smith. “To hold them to 30 points is huge for us. They’re No. 2 in the state for a reason. Our guys came out with a chip on their shoulders. They wanted it really, really bad.”
It wasn’t only the rivalry showdown that stirred the Ironmen’s fire.
They also wanted to burn a new brand of awareness into the minds of OSSAA poll voters.
Coming into last week, the Ironmen had recorded seven-straight wins and boasted one of the state’s top records at 8-2.
But, they couldn’t even crack the Top 20, while Oklahoma Union sat at No. 2.
“Not being ranked drove our guys,” Smith said. “Our guys used it Tuesday night (against Caney Valley) and really tonight. It was a big motivation factor for our guys. … I think our guys really believed they could win.”
Jace Thompson dialed in 20 points to lead a balanced scoring sheet, which also included Skylar Stevens, 12 points; James Ewers, 11; and Caleb Bashford, 10.
Thompson and Stevens dropped in five and three-pointers, respectively, in the first half to help power Nowata to a 29-19 lead.
Nowata took control completely in the third quarter to go up by 23 points, 48-25.
“We really stretched it out,” Smith said. “I told my guys at halftime we had to keep our foot on the gas. … We spread the ball around. I think we played as a team. No one person did it tonight. We just did it together.”
Girls: Nowata 41, Oklahoma Union 37
This one’s been a long, long time coming in a series that’s been a one-sided domination for a few years by Oklahoma Union.
Nowata surged ahead early 7-0 and 11-1, eventually gave up the lead and came back on free throw shooting in the fourth quarter to seize the win.
“It was a good one, especially being able to do it in Nowata,” said Nowata head coach David Vann, who had never beaten Oklahoma Union during his years at Dewey and Nowata. “To beat Oklahoma Union High School, it was a big win.”
MacKenze Barnes scored 23 points, including more than a dozen free throws, to lead the way.
Ty Brown, Kennedy Nubel and Madi Barnes also each contributed points.
“No disrespect to Oklahoma Union but for some reason they weren’t as good as they were last year,” Vann said. “I think they missed a lot of free throws. They missed a lot of open three-pointers down the stretch.”
Of course, at least part of that was due to Nowata’s swarming, engulfing defense.
The Lady Ironmen employed a 1-2-2 zone for nearly the entire game.
“Once we got the lead we stayed with it,” said Vann. “We didn’t break down. We have never given up. For the most part I’m proud of them.”
Boys: Caney Valley 59, Dewey 55
Daniel Barham dialed in a free throw in the final 10 seconds to seal the Caney Valley Trojans’ victory thriller.
Prior to that, Dewey had rallied from 51-39 down to et within three points, 58-55 — a run of 16-7.
But, having already suffered a heartbreaker earlier in the week, the Trojans dug in to win.
Barham finished with 27 points, followed by Rocky Hester and Brayden Peckham with 10 apiece to lead the Trojans, Jackie Black with six, Ethan Nichols with four and Tate Longan with two.
Dewey surged to an 8-0 lead out of the gate; Caney Valley clawed back in the second quarter to tie score and trail by five at halftime.
The Trojans (9-3) started out with a 3-2 defense in the first quarter, transformed to a 1-3-1 in the second period and hunkered down in man-to-man in the third.
Even after Caney Valley went ahead by 12 points, Dewey made one final uprising — and it nearly changed the outcome.
The catalyst for Dewey’s rally was its full court press.
“They cut it to three with 10 seconds left,” Brinker noted. “We missed several free throws that could have put it away.”
Peckham nailed a crucial three-pointer to disrupt part of Dewey’s comeback.
“We’re just kind of blue collar,” Brinker said. “We
ve got to improve on our free throw shooting and slow starts. This was a big win for us.”
Brinker praised the character and performance of Dewey.
“Coach (Lance) Knight does a really good job,” he said.
Jake LaSpisa dialed in 20 points for Dewey, followed by Jace Williams and Colby Miller with 10 apiece.
Hunter Perrier checked in with eight points, Jeremiah Highsmith canned six and Jacob Mouser hit a free throw.
“We won three of the quarters,” Knight noted. “We had one one bad quarter, about a three-minute span in the third that just killed us. It was kind of bam! bam! bam! for them and before you knew it we were down by double digits. We battled and got right back in it.”
Knight pointed to offensive rebounds by Caney Valley as a key factor.
Girls: Caney Valley 42, Dewey 32
One word defined this epic struggle — defense.
By halftime, Caney Valley owned a one-point lead, 14-11, and knew it had a tough task ahead in the second half.
“It was pretty much a stalemate through the first half of the third quarter,’ Caney Valley head coach Deric Longan said.
But, Caney Valley’s shooting stroke snapped in for a few key buckets to effect separation.
Through three quarters Caney Valley led by 10, 28-18; the Lady Trojans maintained control through the fourth period.
“We were able to know down our free throws down the stretch,” Longan said. “It was a really rough, really hard-fought game.”
Jade Upton dropped in 15 points to lead the Caney Valley offensive attack, followed by Libby Thompson with nine; Sammi Gilbreath and Jaci Sumner with eight each and Jill Emery with two.
Dewey countered with senior scoring dynamo Cheyan McDaniel.
For the first three quarters, Dewey succeeded on McDaniel, holding her to four points.
“Our defense was fantastic,” Longan said.
But, McDaniel broke loose for 11 points in the final stanza.
McDaniel pumped in 16 points, followed by Maycee Smith, eight; Kaleena Downing, four; Taylynn Ruble, four; and Matti Lorenz, one.
This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: AREA: Area prep hoops roundup