By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ALTUS — Abby Lee and Courtney Chelf each scored seven of their 19 points in the first quarter, giving Enid a double-digit lead through one frame that the Pacers never relinquished, beating Northwest Classen 57-32 in the opening round of the Lady Bulldog Classic Thursday in Altus.
“I thought the girls right off the bat were playing solid defense and just playing well as a team, passing the ball and running our stuff,” said Enid coach Robb Mills said.
The Pacers held Northwest Classen to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters, building a 17-point lead the Lady Knights (2-2) couldn’t dent in the fourth.
“We knew they liked to run it up and down and make it kind of sloppy,” said Mills, whose team improved to 2-0.
Chelf, whose primary focus in the offseason was to focus on her perimeter defense, platooned with Lee and fellow starter Haven Bay to contain Northwest’s quick-footed point guard, who finished with five points.
“They had a point guard in (Larisha) Chandler that really likes to push the ball and take it to the rim,” Mills said. “We just tried to get in front of her and keep her from penetrating.”
Grace Enmeier scored 10 points for Enid, freshman Andi Pierce added six and Bay finished with three.
The Pacers advance to play Lawton MacArthur at 6:30 p.m., and after one game Mills feels a championship in his hometown — one the Pacers missed in last year’s final game at the tournament — is well within reach.
“I like our odds,” he said. “It’s going to be tough, we play Law-Mac tomorrow, and it’s going to be a tough game for us.”
COWETA 63, ENID 52
TAHLEQUAH — The Enid boys basketball team couldn’t complete a rally after a double-digit first half, losing to Coweta 63-52 in Thursday’s opening round of the Tahlequah Invitational Tournament.
“We just weren’t making a lot of shots,” said coach Ryan Wilkinson. “We weren’t attacking the basket and getting easy looks.”
Enid was held to single digits in the first and second quarters, and Coweta took advantage in the second on four three-pointers from sharpshooter Caleb Norris.
“When you get beat 19-9 in a quarter, you’re fighting an uphill battle the rest of the game,” Wilkinson said.
That uphill fight was one Enid almost won.
The Plainsmen trailed 28-17 at halftime, but Correll Baker returned from a scoreless, foul-troubled opening half to score 15 in the last two quarters to lead an Enid rally that closed to within 44-43 after a fourth-quarter three by Jemarcus Jackson.
But Coweta’s Ty Gunther answered with three of his 13 fourth-quarter points on the next possession, and three straight empty trips for the Plainsmen each resulted in Coweta scores, ballooning the lead back to double digits and sealing the Plainsmen’s second loss in as many games to open the season.
“We were getting turnovers and getting to the basket,” Wilkinson said. “We were playing full-court (pressure) like we want to play, but we weren’t getting good rotations, and they were just answering every basket.”
The game-deciding stretch is one Wilkinson attributed to the Plainsmen’s inexperience in late-game situations.
“It’s something they haven’t done at the varsity level yet,” he said. “We have kids that are just used to playing, not playing in key situations.”
A similar stretch doomed Enid in its season opener against visiting El Reno on Nov. 29, when the Plainsmen closed a 14-point lead to three before fading in the final quarter.
“As we work on those things, we’re going to get better,” Wilkinson said. “I was hoping to play a little bit better basketball right now, but these guys have a lot of areas to grow.”
Baker’s 15 led Enid’s scorers, Darnae Banks added 13 and Jackson finished with eight for the Plainsmen, who play Muskogee at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.