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Jackets pull away from Perry late to resume tournament dominance

  • Article Image Alt Text
    KHS JUNIORS, from left, Matthew Stone, Bijan Cortes and Jarret Birdwell earned all-tournament honors at the Wheat Capital. Cortes was named MVP after his 35-point performance in the championship game. Stone averaged 20 points and nine rebounds over three
  • Article Image Alt Text
    KHS BOYS basketball team members and coaches pose with cheerleaders, the student section and the traveling trophy they earned again last Saturday night after defeating Perry in the finals of the 51st annual Wheat Capital Tournament in Chisholm. It was Kin

With Jarret Birdwell on the bench with foul trouble and only one other teammate able to find his shooting touch in the fi rst half, Bijan Cortes took matters in his own hands.

Kingfisher’s electric junior guard banked in a long 3-pointer near the second-quarter buzzer to cap a 21-point half in which he didn’t miss a fi eld goal.

Cortes eventually missed a shot - but just one - en route to a 35-point performance to lift Kingfisher to a 66-47 victory against Perry in the finals of the Wheat Capital Tournament at Chisholm.

The win over Perry - ranked fifth in Class 3A and unbeaten entering the night - gave KHS its sixth Wheat Capital title in seven years. The lone exception was 2019 when the Jackets sent their JV squad in order to participate in the Tournament of Champions.

“That was a huge performance,” said KHS head coach Jared Reese of Cortes, who also had seven rebounds and seven assists against the Maroons, who pushed the Jackets into a four-quarter game for essentially the first time this season.

“I just felt like I needed to score more,” said Cortes, who was named tournament MVP after averaging 24.3 points, 7.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds over three games.

Birdwell had six early points for KHS, but also spent his share of time on the bench with foul issues.

“Jarret was really good the whole week,” Reese said. “One of the reasons they were able to play us as well as they did was because he was on the bench as much as he was.”

Matthew Stone began to heat up some in the second quarter as he scored seven points and helped KHS build an 11-point lead.

However, nobody else scored in the fi rst half.

Hence the Cortes explosion.

Cortes scored nine points in the first quarter, six of which came in the lane.

In the second, he fl exed his 3-point muscles by nailing four from long range, including the bank shot at the end to give KHS a 36-26 edge.

Perry was bolstered by the inside play of Mason Drake, who had 11 points in the fi rst half and added six more in the third quarter.

However, Drake eventually fouled out, which helped the Jackets pull away. They led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.

Drake scored 18 points as did Jace Goldsberry.

Birdwell finished with eight. He joined Cortes and Stone on the all-tournament team.

Stone scored 21 points in the final to go with six rebounds and four assists.

The junior averaged 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the tournament.

That included 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in the 79-45 semifinal win against Blackwell.

“Matt had three incredible games for us,” said Reese. “He was so consistent for us.”

Birdwell had 17 points and five rebounds against Blackwell while Cortes added 14 points and nine assists.

Junior Ian Daugherty also scored four points in the title game. He had seven points and seven rebounds against Blackwell and averaged five boards a game for the tournament.

“Our offensive rebounding was good and he’s a reason for that,” Reese said.

Kingfisher was 10-0 after the tournament. The Jackets have won 32 straight overall.