The Durant Lions collected their second nail-biter victory in as many weeks on Tuesday with a 49-48 clutch performance over the McAlester Buffaloes.
The Lions are 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the season, dispatching the Buffaloes in the season opener for McAlester. Cole Hughes led the scoring with 17 points and Zac Cater came up big with 10 points.
“We found a way to win,” said Coach Jason Wilkerson. “This team doesn’t have any quit in them.”
Durant opened the game by torching the Buffs 17-3 in the first quarter on 70 percent shooting from the floor. Hughes, Cater, Jalen Harris and Will Engle all pitched in. But the Lion defense relaxed and allowed a 12-6 McAlester run before a Skye Lowe three-ball stopped the damage.
The Lions took an imposing 28-15 lead into the second half, only to see McAlester return the favor and outscore Durant 20-3 in the third. The Buffs took a 35-31 lead as Durant fell victim to the half-court trap.
“We just haven’t worked on it and we were not quite prepared,” said Wilkerson. “That’s my fault, that’s on me. But they went out and won it and that’s on them.”
A furious fourth quarter rally started when Hughes laid in a baseline finger-roll to cut a five point McAlester lead to 36-33. Harris got to the line and cut the lead to one, but the Buffs would go back up by four.
Engle dribbled through two defenders for a basket, but a Buffalo putback would keep the Lions down by three points in the final and frantic minute of the game. Hughes hit a jumper to make the score 46-45 Buffs, then Lowe stole the ball midcourt with 30 seconds to go.
Cater would hit a fall-away jumper which gave Durant a 47-46 lead with 20 seconds left. McAlester turned the ball over and Hughes got to the free throw line, hitting one of two.
The Buffs missed a pair of freebies with four seconds left, and Cater came up with the big rebound and was sent to the line. He hit one of two and put the Lions ahead 49-46. Will Engle fouled a Buffalo at midcourt with half a second remaining.
McAlester hit both free shots and the buzzer sounded as Durant inbounded the ball. The student rowdies rushed the court to celebrate another home win, mobbing Cater.
“He’s been extremely clutch in those waning moments,” Wilkerson said. He also bragged on Hughes and center James Donelan, who added seven blocks to his three points. Donelan has 23 blocked shots in three games.
Durant will take its 2-1 record up against the Shawnee Wolves (0-1 before a Tuesday tilt with Piedmont) at 5:40 p.m. Thursday in the 23rd annual Lion Classic.