ADA – The Durant Lions showed flashes of solid play throughout the first semester but could never manage to put four quarters together for a victory.
That all changed Thursday against Class 6A Lawton in the first game of 2018.
The Lions hung right with the 19th ranked Wolverines and cashed in opportunities down the stretch, including a game-winning three-pointer from Brady Nichols with one second remaining, for a 55-54 win in the opening round of the East Central Classic.
In Friday’s semifinals, Durant held a four-point lead early in the second half against Shawnee before dropping a 53-48 verdict.
Durant’s girls weren’t quite as fortunate against 6A Lawton in their opener as the Wolverines scored the final nine points of the first half and then outscored the Lady Lions 15-1 in the third period on the way to a 48-24 triumph.
The Lady Lions rebounded to blitz the Harrah junior varsity, 59-13, on Friday for their second win of the year.
Nichols struggled offensively much of the day, but after Lawton left the door open when Emajhawun Kelly sank only one of two free throws with 10 seconds left, the senior stepped to the forefront.
As time was running out he calmly drilled the 20-footer from just to the left side of the three-point arc to put the Lions in the victory column for the first time this season.
Durant (1-6) rolled to a 17-10 first quarter advantage behind the one-two punch of Drake Cates and Daniel Long, who combined for 15 of the Lions’ first quarter points.
Cates had nine in the quarter alone on the way to a season-high 15 for the contest.
The Wolverines responded with a 20-8 bulge in the second frame for a 30-25 halftime lead and extended that margin to 45-38 through three quarters but Coach Aaron George’s squad refused to fold.
Dominic Wynn erupted for seven points in the final frame and Long chipped in five of his game-high 17 in that quarter as well to fuel the DHS comeback.
Still down 53-52 in the waning seconds, the Lions were forced to foul but Kelly managed to just split the charity tosses setting the stage for Nichols’ heroics as he finished the game with eight point.
Cates notched 15 points with Bryson Lyday adding six and Tyler Hamblin contributing four.
Against Shawnee, Durant was in front 11-8 after one stanza and 24-23 at the half spurred by eight first half points from Cates and key buckets from Nichols late as he led the charge with 12 before the break.
A Cates trey to start the third put the Lions ahead 27-23 before the Wolves answered with a 12-0 run to take command. Bryson Lyday’s basket ended the dry spell but only got Durant back to within 35-27.
The Lions refused to fold as Lyday pumped in six more in the fourth stanza but DHS could never get any closer than the final margin.
Cates totaled 13 with Nichols ending with 12. Lyday scored eight, Dominic Wynn had five while Daniel Long, Tyler Hamblin and Zyarius Clark all had three.
Tristyn Hamilton sank a pair of early three-pointers and Alli Keel tossed in five points as Durant rallied from a 15-8 deficit after one stanza with an 8-1 run to open the second.
Amazingly they did not hit a field goal attempt the rest of the way, managing only eight second half free throws.
Hamilton and Keel each posted seven points while Annalee Jones checked in with six. Kendall Cordell added three and Karl Westmoreland scored one for the Lady Lions.
There was never any question as to the victor on Friday as Durant rolled to a 14-1 lead through one quarter and was ahead 29-5 at the halftime break.
Westmoreland pumped in a career-high 19 points, sinking five three-pointers, including three in the third period alone.
Jones and Ally Kennedy notched 10 points apiece with Hamilton tossing in eight. Madi Keel posted three with Kendall Cordell, Landri Sims and Brandasha Young all contributing two.