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Another defensive gem for Jackets

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KHS locks down Cushing, 69-24, for 46th straight victory

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    BIJAN CORTES (14) blocks Cushing’s Camden Crooks at the rim during the Jackets’ win in a regional semifinal Thursday. [Photo by Russell Stitt/www.stitt.smugmug.com]

In the closing moments of Thursday’s 4A regional semifinal, Kingfisher senior Wes Hine posted up, caught a pass from Mason Snider, spun over his left shoulder and knocked down a shot to send his bench and student section into a frenzy.

With all due respect to the big man’s basketball abilities (he’s signed to play football at the University of Northern Iowa), if Hine is in the game, it’s generally a good thing for the Yellowjackets.

That was the case here as Hine scored the final points in Kingfisher’s 69-24 victory over Cushing to push his team into Saturday night’s regional final.

The Jackets, now winners of 46 consecutive games, will play Clinton at 8 p.m. at the APB in that regional title tilt.

Clinton, ranked 16th, held off Weatherford 54-45 Thursday.

The highlight of Cushing’s night may have been a possession early in the first quarter when the Tigers chewed more than a minute off the clock.

The patience on offense was due mostly to the stinginess of the Kingfisher defense, but the possession did result in a wide-open shot underneath.

One that was missed.

Kingfisher spent the rest of the quarter ratcheting up the pressure, forcing the issue and building a 24-5 lead.

Bijan Cortes was the biggest culprit early.

His defense led to offense as he had 11 points by the end of the quarter.

“He was dialed in,” coach Jared Reese said. “When he’s focused like that on defense, he can be really dangerous.”

Kingfisher forced 19 turnovers, which led to 26 points.

Cortes had two steals, two blocks and two deflections and, in general, made Cushing guard Wil Moyer’s night miserable.

Cushing managed 11 points in the second quarter, but still trailed by 22 points at the break.

In the third quarter, however, the Kingfisher defense returned to shutdown mode.

The Tigers scored only three points as the Jackets’ advantage ballooned to 57-19.

Matthew Stone dominated that frame with 12 of his game-high 21 points.

He put the exclamation mark on the quarter - and his playing time for the night - with a backdoor cut in which he caught a pass from Jarret Birdwell and threw down a powerful one-handed slam.

Cortes scored 20 points and led the team with seven rebounds and five assists.

Birdwell chipped in 11 points and four boards.

The Jackets held Cushing to 28 percent shooting and out-rebounded the Tigers 36-22.

Kingfisher enters Saturday’s final with a 24-0 record.

Among those victories is an 80-56 win at Clinton on Jan. 17.