TOC: Putback as time expires pushes Crossings Christian to win over KHS
TULSA – Less than a half-second was all it took for Kingfisher to go from leaving the Tournament of Champions with the thirdplace trophy to suffering its second straight defeat.
Evan Crotts caught a missed 3-pointer along the baseline as he was fading away. Without landing, Crotts drained a fadeaway shot, one that just left his fingertips before the final buzzer to lift Crossings Christian School to a dra-matic 49-48 overtime win over the Yellowjackets on Friday night at the BOK Center.
“It was a tough one to stomach,” said Kingfisher coach Jared Reese.
“We felt we out-played them in a lot of aspects of the game and we still left there with a loss.”
The defeat carries with it some significance on multiple levels.
Firstly, it was a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 as KHS entered the game as the top-ranked team in Class 4A while the Knights, whom the Jackets beat in last year’s state semifinals, were ranked right behind them.
Second, KHS doesn’t lose often.
Kingfisher was sent into the third-place game with Thursday night’s 54-39 setback to Class 5A No. 2 Tulsa Memorial.
That loss was Kingfisher’s first of the season and the first since Jan. 25, 2022, which was in the middle of last season.
Crotts’ putback meant Kingfisher will have multiple losses in a single season for the first time since 2016-17.
The back-to-back losses are the first for the boys’ program since the end of the 2015-16 when KHS was defeated by Douglass in a regional final and then Mount St. Mary to open the area tournament.
“That means we’ve been a part of a really good run here,” said Reese after his team dropped to 5-2 on this season.
“But it also means we still have to work harder than everyone else and still do all of the little things the right way to win those close games.”
Kingfisher’s late lead was improbable considering the Jackets trailed for more than 30 minutes in the game, was down by four points late in regulation and then by five with just 51 seconds left in overtime.
Still, the Jackets led going into the final possession of the game.
They were helped by the fact Crossings missed 4 of 6 free throws in the final 1:07 of the extra period.
The last two were by freshman Phoenix Woodson with 37 seconds remaining and his team up 47-44.
After Woodson failed to make it a two-possession game, he fouled Kingfisher’s Xavier Ridenour four seconds later.
Ridenour made his first free throw to pull the Jackets within 47-45, but missed his second.
But teammate Maddox Mecklenburg was able to snare the offensive rebound and found Ridenour, who had drifted beyond the 3-point line.
The KHS senior nailed the trey, giving Kingfisher a 48-47 lead just moments after it trailed by three.
After a Crossings timeout, the Knights’ Cal Furnish - was 7 of 9 from 3-point range up to that point - missed a long 3-point attempt, though the long rebound was found by Crossings’ Cam Parker.
Parker got it back to Furnish, who couldn’t find an open shot and eventually fed it to Gudell in the corner.
Gudell’s rushed shot hit the back of the rim before Crotts was able to pull off his heroics.
“We let them get two more looks than we should have,” Reese said. “We know those are things we can’t overcome in games like that.”
Furnish was nearly unstoppable for the Knights as he scored 29 points on 10 of 15 shooting.
His 15-foot jumper with 2:30 to go in regulation put the Knights up 39-35.
However, the Jackets were able to tie it up as Mecklenburg twice drove to the low block and scored for the Jackets.
The game-tying shot came with 12 seconds to go, but Ridenour soon fouled Furnish, sending him to the line.
Fortunately for the Jackets, Furnish missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Mecklenburg tried to put KHS on top in the waning seconds, but was stripped by Furnish, setting up the overtime period.
Kingfisher got off to a slow start in the game and trailed 10-5 after a quarter. The Jackets saw their biggest deficit of nine points with 5:52 to play in the half.
But they closed strong as Ridenour continued to attack the Knights’ defense.
His play helped the Jackets stake a 19-17 halftime lead.
KHS again scored just five points in the third quarter and faced a five-point deficit entering the fourth.
Led by Furnish’s sharp-shooting, the Knights outscored KHS 30-15 from 3-point range.
Despite Crossings featuring the 6-foot-7 Woodson and 6-foot-6 Parker, Kingfisher outscored the Knights 26-2 in the paint and won the rebound battle by 11.
“If you have those kinds of advantages, it normally equates to a win,” Reese said.
Ridenour led Kingfisher with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Mecklenburg had his best offensive game of the season with 13 points and he also grabbed nine boards.
Caden Kitchens was named to the all-tournament first team.
He scored 10 points and had four rebounds in the final game.
Kitchens was the fifth-leading scorer in the tournament (43 points).
He did that despite playing injured.
“He had a rib out of place,” Reese pointed out. “It was tough for him to even go on Thursday and he really had to fight through the pain to play Friday.”
The Jackets never got going consistently on offense against Memorial.
They shot just 26 percent in the first half and found themselves trailing the Chargers 32-18.
Memorial shot 68 percent during that stretch and 60 percent for the game overall.
Ridenour and Kitchens both scored 12 points and had four rebounds.
Drake Friesen scored nine points as he made all three of his 3-point attempts.
“I thought Drake and Jud (Birdwell) had exceptional tournaments,” said Reese of his two seniors who come off the bench. “They both did a lot of things on both ends of the floor to keep us in all three games. They were definitely bright spots for us.”