ATOKA — The deepening lineup of the Durant Lions bared its teeth Tuesday in an impressive 65-50 road win over the Wampus Cats.
It was the second victory this season over Atoka, and broke a four-game slide for the Lions.
“We made shots, which is something we haven’t been doing lately,” said Durant Coach Jason Wilkerson. “We’re getting better, and that’s the whole point. Teams have been keying on Cole (Hughes) and others are stepping up. That’s what we need.
“Some thought that first win over Atoka was a fluke, but we went out there and fought hard and came away with a win.”
Indeed Hughes was held to six points, but that didn’t stop four other Lions from reaching double figures. Will Engle came off the bench for 16 points (14 in the first half) and Zac Cater had 14. James Donelan added 12 points to a tidy collection of blocks and rebounds, while Jalen Harris had 11.
The game was tied 18-18 after one quarter, and it looked as if the Lions and Cats would battle to a draw just as the girls’ teams did before them. Engle scored eight of the Lions’ 18 first quarter points.
Durant outscored Atoka 18-12 in the second to take a 36-30 halftime lead. The lead grew to double figures in the third with Cater keeping up the pressure, and from plays like a Cole Hughes finger roll off the glass to give the Lions a 49-39 lead.
Big hustle plays punctuated the fourth quarter. Still ahead 10, Engle dumped off to Donelan for a basket, then Engle scored on the next trip down court for a 58-44 lead. Durant outscored Atoka 29-20 in the second half.
The Lions (5-7) face one of their biggest challenges yet on Thursday at the East Central Oklahoma Classic in Ada. At 5:30 p.m., they will take on Stillwater, ranked No. 8 among the state’s biggest schools (6A) by okrankings.com.