DEL CITY – Pressure defense and a third quarter barrage by the 10th ranked Del City Eagles proved to be too much for Durant to overcome Friday night as the Lions saw their season come to an end with a 73-57 loss in the Class 5A regional tournament.
Things didn’t start off too badly for the Lions as they hit five of 11 from the field in the opening quarter but Del City shot it better to steadily push the advantage to 18-10 at the end of the period despite a sensational start by Brady Nichols.
The junior was the offensive catalyst, especially early on as he scored eight of Durant’s 10 points in the first frame and then reeled off the Lions’ opening six to start the second quarter. Most of those close range looks came off assists from Taylor Cox and Cade Buchanan.
Five turnovers in the opening frame however turned into multiple transition opportunities for the Eagles and that carried over to the second period.
A Nichols bucket cut the deficit to 22-16 with just over three minutes gone in the stanza but Del City poured in seven points in a row to take its biggest lead, thanks in part to a couple more DHS turnovers that translated into Eagle scores.
Durant capitalized on free throws down the stretch, hitting eight straight at the charity stripe over the final 2:48 of the quarter (four coming from Cox with two apiece by Nichols and Tre’ Harper).
Del City meanwhile couldn’t cash in at the free throw line despite numerous chances, helping leave the door open.
One key spot late in the half however came when Nichols picked up his fourth foul after leading the offensive charge with 14 points prior to the break. That proved to be difficult to overcome as the Eagles took advantage of his absence in the paint during a monster run to start the third quarter.
Wes Engle canned a trey to open the second half that trimmed the Del City advantage to 36-29 but that proved to be the Lions’ lone field goal for more than six minutes until a driving basket from Cade Buchanan.
By that time however the hosts had built a commanding 20-point cushion as they turned up the pressure and forced eight Durant turnovers, which fueled the Eagles’ transition offensive assault. They also put on a clinic on the offensive glass with numerous second and third chance opportunities.
Another Engle three-pointer late in the frame narrowed the gap to 56-39 but Del City pushed it back to 18 heading into the fourth.
The Lions clawed back to within 62-47 on Cox’s first field goal of the game with six minutes remaining but Marquise Williams pumped in five quick points that pushed the margin back to 20.
Nichols and Cox each fouled out early in the fourth frame after combining for 28 points (Nichols 16 and Cox 12), leaving the Lions without their two leading scorers the rest of the contest.
Engle and Harper finished with eight apiece for the Lions as Cade Buchanan notched fourth, Daniel Long and Drake Cates had three each while Brody Morgan scored two and Austin Stallings finished with one point.
Del City, which improved to 12-12, will face Northwest Classen, a 60-44 winner over Bishop Kelley on Friday, for the regional title tonight. The Lions end with an 11-12 record for the season.
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or email@example.com