Okarche executes timely gameplan to advance to Class A semis
Ray and Aaron West felt they had the ace up their sleeves.
They were just waiting for the right time to play it.
The Okarche coaches did so at just the right time Thursday and it landed the Warriors in the state semifinals.
The eighth-ranked Warriors held Kiowa scoreless for the final 3:29 to defeat the Cowboys 58-51 at Mustang High School in the Class A quarterfinals.
After falling behind 51-50, the Wests finally unleashed their 1-3-1 trap, extending it just beyond half-court.
“We thought it would be effective against them, but we didn’t want to pop it too early,” said head coach Ray West. “That’s old faithful. I’ve been using it every year I’ve coached.”
Mason Bomhoff gave Okarche the go-ahead points with two free throws with 3:05 to play.
After that, the Warriors mostly converted at the foul line while Kiowa struggled to get field goal attempts against the trap.
And when the Cowboys did get opportunities, they faltered. Kiowa was 0 for 4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“I think they might have been a little tired,” West said. “The pace of the game was definitely in our favor and it eventually helped wear them down.”
Meanwhile, Okarche was 10 of 13 from the charity stripe in the fourth.
Kaleb Harris made all four of his attempts and scored six of his 15 in the last eight minutes.
He blocked a 3-point shot with 32 seconds left, grabbed the rebound and made the ensuing free throws for the final margin.
The game was back and forth until the final three minutes.
Kiowa’s Trevor Middleton made consecutive treys to open up a six-point lead for the Cowboys early in the second quarter, but Okarche later used a 10-2 run for a slim lead.
“We did what we wanted with our defense early in the game, too,” West said. “They didn’t want to go up and down with us, but we were able to force the issue and force some turnovers.
“But we didn’t take advantage of it. We were missing shots and turning it right back over to them.”
The teams were tied at halftime and fourth-ranked Kiowa took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Cache Stone’s bucket while being fouled with 3:29 left gave Kiowa a 51-50 advantage, its last of the game.
He missed the free throw, negating the chance to extend the lead. Kiowa was 6 of 14 from the foul line overall and committed 23 turnovers.
The Warriors made 21 of their 29 free throws.
Harris led a balanced Okarche attack. He was followed by Cris Avila’s 11 points.
Lathen Stover added 10 and Kalen McCarthy nine.
Tucker Neuenschwander scored seven and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Okarche (25-5) played No. 6 Cyril (24-4) in Friday’s semifinals (after press time). Cyril thumped third-ranked Frontier 78-48 in its quarterfinal win.
Bomhoff scored six points as the Warriors advanced to the state semifinals. [TIMES & FREE PRESS Staff Photo]