KINGSTON — The Kingston Redskins didn’t give themselves the easiest path through Regionals, but they nonetheless qualified for area after two clutch wins.
The Redskins won the Regional Consolation Championship, earning a berth in this week’s Class 3A Area III Tournament in Ada. The ’Skins will face Advanced Science & Technology Education Center of Norman at 3 p.m. Thursday at Ada.
After winning their district match over Marietta, the Redskins endured a heartbreaking 41-39 double-overtime loss to Hugo in a game that could have instantly punched their ticket to the area tournament. As a result of the loss, the ‘Skins had to win two elimination games to qualify for Area.
“It was a tough loss,” coach Taylor Wiebener said. “I took it really hard, and I had a lot of trouble sleeping that night, because I knew there were mistakes that we usually don’t make that cost us the win. But I knew I had to put it behind me and be positive and just tell the kids there was still another way we could advance.”
The Redskins found that other way, by virtue of convincing wins over Davis and Little Axe.
The performance puts Kingston in the Area Tournament for the first time in the last five years. It puts them three wins away from the Class 3A State Tournament. The good news is that the Redskins’ state tournament hopes are still alive, but they must win three straight games to get there.
“It’s survive and advance,” Wiebener summarized. “It’s just find a way to win, however you can.”
That should be familiar territory for the Redskins, who found a way in consecutive games to make their way to Ada.
It was the loss to Hugo, however, that put the Redskins’ backs against the wall. In that contest, Kingston had numerous chances to win the game, but the Buffaloes kept finding a way to extend the game.
Scrappy junior forward Mason Whipkey did all he could do to put his team in position for a win, posting 21 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore Noah Hodges chipped in 11 points, but one late basket by Hugo bounced the ’Skins into the consolation bracket.
The Redskins responded with the kind of grit Kingston fans have grown accustomed to seeing. After a somewhat sluggish start against Davis Friday afternoon, the Redskins ran away in the second half for a 53-42 win. Paden Hayes scored 17 points, and came up big down the stretch. The cool-handed sophomore made seven free throws in the fourth quarter to prevent the Wolves from mounting a rally. Hodges added 9 points to help seal the deal.
In the 47-30 win against Little Axe, no Redskin scored double digits, but several posted near misses. Whipkey and Hodges each scored 9, Keelan Price put in 8 and Cole Nance added 7.
Wiebener cited Nance’s return from injury as one of the keys to the Redskins’ area tournament berth.
Wiebener said ASTEC will be a tough round 1 foe, but if his team can rebound and play defense, he feels they have a chance to win.
“Defensive intensity is something you can bring every night,” Wiebener said. “Offensively, your shots may not be falling sometimes — that happens. But keeping up the defensive pressure — that’s something you can do every night to give yourself a chance to win.”