By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Through three quarters, Enid’s Courtney Chelf was neck-deep in her worst game of the first five of the 2012-13 season.
But the No. 14 Pacers’ leading scorer was there when they needed her.
Chelf scored all of Enid’s seven points in the fourth quarter, and stole away Lawton Eisenhower’s final chance to take the lead as the Pacers handed the No. 19 Lady Eagles their first loss of the season, 32-31.
“It wasn’t pretty, but when you’re in Enid, you find a way to win,“ coach Robb Mills said.
Chelf had three points on one-for-nine shooting entering the fourth, when the senior hit three of her eight shots and added a free throw with less than a minute remaining to give Enid its 32-31 lead.
Chelf contested a Brianna Underwood reverse layup on Eisenhower’s (5-1) next possession to keep the Pacers in the lead, and after two missed free throws from Andi Pierce on the other end, Chelf picked a driving Underwood’s pocket with four seconds left to seal the win.
“It felt great,” said Chelf, who finished with a team-high 10 points. “I was just happy my defense stepped-up when my offense wouldn’t.”
“We know what kind of player Courtney is,” Mills added. “We were just waiting to see the full impact of it.”
Enid trailed 12-7 after the first quarter, thanks in large part to a hot start from Eisenhower’s Nikki Smith, who hit each of her first five shots.
Smith and fellow Lady Eagle forward Crystal Polk, both taller than the other eight players on the floor when they were in, were Eisenhower’s focal point throughout, clearing space in the lane and finishing when given any space.
But Abby Lee held Smith to four points after intermission, and Grace Enmeier limited the six-foot Polk to seven points on three-for-eight shooting.
“It was scary,” said Enmeier, who still is nagged by a September elbow injury. “It was really hard with my elbow injury because she’s so much bigger than me. She’s strong. She’s really big.”
“Grace has been a real consistent player for us all year, and tonight, she stepped up to the challenge,” Mills said. “She’s playing really well right now. She should still feel good about it.
“The game plan was there, they just didn’t realize when you get there, how much of a fight it’s going to be. When they adjusted to the fight, and made sure we got in front and in back of (Eisenhower’s bigs), I think that was the difference.”
Lee and Haven Bay each scored six and Pierce added five for the Pacers (4-1), who host Lawton at 3:30 p.m. today at the Mabee Center.
Eisenhower 72, Enid 66 (B)
Correll Baker hit a driving layup to give the Plainsmen a 2-0 lead, but No. 5 Lawton-Eisenhower answered with a 14-0 run, scoring at will inside and out, to outpace Enid 21-9 in the frame and hold off a handful of rallies for a 72-66 win Friday at the Mabee Center.
Darnae Banks hit two threes and Aaron Austin scored nine points in a furious 18-3 run in the second period to pull within 32-28.
But the Plainsmen never did complete the rally, falling victim to six threes from Jamey Woods and a healthy helping of inside buckets from 6-foot-7 Eisenhower forward James Cross.
“They know that their bigs are going to get doubled,” said Enid head coach Ryan Wilkinson. “Those guys have learned to play off of those (bigs). Woods … definitely knows how to position himself if his man’s going to come off him to double. He knows how to get open and hit shots.”
Enid forward Lance Smith helped limit Cross, who finished with 16, but any time the Plainsmen helped on the oversized Eagle, Woods and Dominique Pierre, who added 15, found space to score.
The Plainsmen’s last attempt at a rally came in the final minutes, when Banks hit two threes, Baker hit another and guard Deon Parker hit the team’s fifth in as many attempts during the desperate stretch.
But the last ditch effort fell short, and Eisenhower (5-1) hit enough free throws to keep Enid at bay one last time.
“If we would have started exactly the way we played in the second (quarter), we’d have gotten that W easily,” said Banks, who finished with a career-high 18. “If we play (like that), I don’t think there’s any team that could blow us out.”
That’s something Wilkinson figures the Plainsmen (2-3) can start doing on a more regular basis this season.
“At times, we do show that we can play at a very high level,” he said. “We just need to get that consistency.”
The team’s next chance is at 5 p.m. today at the Mabee Center, against 20th-ranked Lawton.