Jeff Kaley/ For The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Banner
Talk about following the same script.
When Waurika and Velma-Alma resumed their ancient basketball series Friday night, the story line for both games was almost identical — just about the time a close game seemed to be developing, a rout broke out.
During Senior Night at J. M. Carey Fieldhouse, Waurika’s boys trailed the Class A fifth-ranked Comets by two points midway through the third quarter, when V-A unleashed a 23-4 run and cruised to a 62-44 victory.
In the curtain-raiser, the Lady Eagles had a lead with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter against the favored Lady Comets, when a 3-pointer by Teddi Southerland triggered a 14-0 explosion that led to a 66-35 Velma-Alma win.
Although the Comets came into their final regular-season game at 17-3 and Waurika’s boys had lost six of their last nine games, nothing was easy for V-A in the first 19-1/2 minutes.
Waurika trailed, 26-18, at halftime and began closing the gap in the third quarter behind a pair of buckets by Leo Roberts and a short jumper by Mason Johnson. When Mason Wilkerson connected with 4:33 remaining, the Eagles had pulled within 28-26.
Then Velma-Alma got the hot hand and turned up the gas under its full-court defense. Guard L.L. Humphreys, who hadn’t scored, nailed a pair of 3-pointers that ignited a 19-4 flurry and the Comets caught their breath at the end of the third quarter with a 47-30 lead.
Waurika never recovered. The Comets’ run rose to 31-6 and a 57-33 edge, before head coach Kenny Bare went deep into his bench in the final 3:30.
“We caught a spark, but the big thing was that we started making shots. This game is a lot easier when you’re making shots,” said Bare, who rotated line-ups by using 11 different players in the first half.
“That’s something we’ve done a lot this season, because we like to get out and run,” he noted. “I thought we played pretty good in the first half, playing all those guys, but it’s tough to get a rhythm going when you’re playing that many.”
Initially, Waurika did it’s part in disrupting Velma-Alma’s flow by playing deliberately on offense, a scheme head coach Joe Masoner unveiled three nights before, when WHS defeated Bray-Doyle.
The change was evident in the first quarter, as the Eagles took an early 6-2 lead, and despite seven points by V-A’s Zac Cable, Waurika trailed just 14-11 at the end of the initial period.
Wilkerson opened the second quarter with a basket in the paint that cut WHS’ deficit to 14-13, but the Eagles went scoreless in the next 3:24 and the Comets scored 10 straight tallies, moving in front, 24-13.
“We just go goofy some times, and we did that twice (Friday), once in the second quarter and then in the last half of the third quarter,” Eagles skipper Masoner said. “We had the game slowed down and had them playing our game, instead of us playing their game.
“But then we got a little lazy with our passes and forced a couple of things.”
Nine different Comets scored, paced by 15 points from Dallen Mercer, 14 from Cable and 11 from Jaz Gayanich, who also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Wilkerson topped the Eagles with 13 points, while Roberts and Garret Bachand each had nine. Wilkerson and Bachand had seven apiece.
Velma-Alma 66, Waurika 35
While the Lady Comets (14-6) were favored, the Lady Eagles (9-12) stayed within striking distance at the outset.
During a three-minute span in the first quarter, Waurika went on a 9-2 run, taking a 6-5 lead on back-to-back buckets by Courtland Henderson and Daley Gay, then opening a 11-7 edge on lay-ups by Staci Brandon and Henderson.
But things quickly changed when Velma-Alma began to find its shooting touch and it’s defense began shaking turnovers out of WHS’ offense.
In the final minute of the initial stanza. Southerland’s trey from the baseline ignited a barrage of 14 straight points that proved decisive. Two backdoor buckets by Kylee Saville nudged the Lady Comets to a 15-11 lead at the first break, and with Waurika committing 15 turnovers in the second quarter, the door was wide open for V-A.
Getting scoring from five different players, the Lady Comets soared to a 34-15 advantage, until Brandon hit a basket to trim the margin to 34-17 at halftime.
Velma-Alma was still on fire after the intermission, immediately scoring 16 uncontested points before a follow-up by Waurika’s Tatum Mora momentarily stopped the bleeding at 50-19. With Saville and Aria Johnson each dropping in nine points, the Lady Comets were up, 60-21, going into the fourth frame.
“Shooting was the big difference; when you shoot well, good things can happen,” V-A coach Jerry Garrett said. “Our guards did a good job of shooting and our defense put a lot of pressure on (Waurika), which generated our offense.”
Shooting 52.2 percent from the field, the Lady Comets got a game-high 22 points from Saville and 19 from Johnson, while Southerland finished with 11.
“That 29 (total) turnovers was the bottom line for us,” Lady Eagles skipper Everett Hodges said. “In the second quarter, Velma’s 2-2-1 press was getting to us and I called a time out and tried to get us to handle it, but we didn’t.
“Velma also shot the ball well and we didn’t (25 percent).”
Gay paced Waurika with 11 points and Brandon had nine, but no other Lady Eagle scored more than four. WHS did have a 35-24 edge in rebounds, as Mora grabbed a game-high 11.