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Epic Leap Day performance

March 04, 2020 - 00:00
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Cortes scores 32 as Jackets thrash Clinton by 51

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    KINGFISHER YELLOWJACKETS vs CLINTON RED TORNADOES — KINGFISHER’S STUDENT SECTION looks on as Harrison Themer puts up a 3-point attempt during the Jackets’ regional championship Saturday. [Photo by Russell Stitt/www.stittsmugmug. corn]
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    KINGFISHER YELLOWJACKETS vs CLINTON RED TORNADOES — KHS PLAYERS, from left, Aryan Haro, Bijan Cortes, Maverick Ridenour and Ian Daugherty react after a teammate scored Saturday. [Photo by Russell Stitt/]

A person born on Feb. 29 is considered most commonly referred to as a “leap-year baby” or even a “leaper.”

While he may not have the birthday, Bijan Cortes certainly showed the characteristics of the latter name on Leap Day.

Cortes offered up more highlight-reel plays that brought fans to their feet as the Jackets buried Clinton 91-40 in a Class 4A regional championship game Saturday at the APB.

The win put Kingfisher within one win of its fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament.

The first crack comes at 8 p.m. Friday against No. 8 Bethany in the area championship game at Stillwater.

The loser will get another chance to advance at 8 p.m Saturday in the consolation title tilt

Cortes played a big role in ensuring Kingfisher’s spot at area as he led the team in rebounds, assists, steals and was tied for second in rebounds.

Part of the junior’s night included a block on a wouldbe Clinton layup that resembled something more of a kill in volleyball than anything on a basketball court.

In the second half, teammate Matthew Stone grabbed a rebound, lobbed it downcourt ahead of Cortes, who took one dribble, two steps and threw down a crowd-raising dunk over a Clinton player.

That was part of a 25-point third quarter that helped KHS turn a 15-point halftime advantage into a 62-35 swarm.

It only got worse for Clinton in the fourth as the Jackets closed it out with a 29-5 spurt

Cortes scored 19 of his 32 points in that second half. Included in his night were five separate threepoint plays, a 12 of 13 showing from the foul line, six rebounds, six assists and seven steals.

He scored 10 in the first quarter as the Jackets got out to a 25-9 advantage over the 16th-ranked Red Tornadoes.

That included drawing a foul while attempting a 3-pointer near the end of the quarter. He sank all three of the foul shots.

The Jackets were outscored 13-12 in the second, but the domination commenced in the third.

Stone scored seven points in each the first and third quarters. He ended with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Harrison Themer knocked down a trio of treys for nine points while Maverick Ridenour also scored nine.

The top-ranked Jackets dominated nearly every statistical category while improving to 25-0.

They outscored Clinton in transition (16-2), points off turnovers (29-5), second-chance points (14-3) and points in the paint (48-18).

The Jackets coaxed Clinton into 19 turnovers and 36 percent shooting.

KHS countered with a 66 percent offering from the field that included going 24 of 30 (80 percent) inside the arc.

The win was the 47th straight for the program, which is seventh all-time for boys basketball in Oklahoma. A win Friday would tie KHS with Carnegie (1992-93) for sixth on the list.

Capitol Hill (1944-45) sits at No. 5 with 49 straight wins.

Kingfisher won 75-63 at Bethany on Feb. 4. That’s the most points the Jackets have surrendered all season.

The Jackets also defeated Bethany 50-39 in last year’s area championship game as part of their run to the state championship.

Bethany is currently 20-5.