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Head & Shoulders Above

March 12, 2023 - 00:00
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Jacket D dominates, Ridenour explodes for 26 in quarterfinal victory over Stilwell

  • Head & Shoulders Above
    KHS SENIOR Jud Birdwell soars over a trio of Stilwell players during the Jackets’ quarterfinal win Wednesday at State Fair Arena. Birdwell had six points and three steals as KHS won 53-28 to advance to the state semifinals a fourth straight time. [Photo
  • Head & Shoulders Above
    KHS BOYS coaches Jared Reese and Chris Combs on the sideline during the Jackets’ Class 4A state quarterfinal victory against Stilwell. [Photo by Russell Stitt/]

There’s defending and there’s Kingfisher.

Stilwell found out the difference on Wednesday morning.

The top-ranked Yellowjackets are back in the Class 4A semifinals after a 53-28 dismantling of the Indians in the quarterfinals at State Fair Arena.

Stilwell shot just 32 percent, turned it over 17 times and was held to its season low point total…by 11 points.

“I thought it was good from the start and we never really let up,” said coach Jared Reese, whose team has now reached the semifinals in six consecutive trips to state.

“And then we got rolling on offense and our sets really hurt them.”

Especially when those sets ended with Xavier Ridenour shooting the ball.

The senior guard lit up Stilwell for 26 points despite not seeing the floor in the fourth quarter.

He had 10 of Kingfi sher’s 12 points in the first quarter and then five straight as part of a 16-0 Jacket run that blew the game wide open in the second quarter.

“That was exactly what we wanted,” Reese said. “We felt we were controlling the game up to that point even though the scoreboard didn’t necessarily reflect it.

“Then we just took away their hope with that run.”

A pair of well-time traps led to easy Kingfisher steals and layups and five different Jackets scored during the run.

It saw Kingfisher push its lead to 28-6. It was 28-9 at half and the Indians had just three field goals and were shooting 20 percent.

Ridenour had 15 points at the half and started the second half with a bucket.

He added two more treys and three free throws (after being fouled on a 3-point attempt).

When he took a seat for good, Ridenour had outscored Stilwell by 11 points.

“He was phenomenal,” Reese said. “He shot it great and was also aggressive in attacking at the right moments.”

The Indians didn’t crack double digits until 5:30 remained in the third quarter.

They were led by Tyrus Teehee’s nine points.

Kingfisher was 7 of 13 from 3-point range, led by Ridenour’s 5 of 7 performance.

Cash Slezickey made both of his attempts for his six points.

Caden Kitchens added 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Jackets won the board battle 25-15.

Jud Birdwell also scored six points while Jax Stern-berger had a team-high five assists to go with his four points.

Ranked seventh, Stilwell saw its season end with a 23-4 record.

The Jackets took a 24-3 record into Friday night’s semifinal against No. 4 Douglass at Yukon High School (after press time).

The Trojans were 24-1 and took down No. 5 Oklahoma Christian School 6560 in the quarterfinals.

Douglass led that game 31-16 at halftime.

Landry Ballard Jr. paced four Trojans in double figures with his 17 points.

Kingfisher is seeking a sixth consecutive appearance in the state championship game (excluding 2020 when the tournament was canceled due to COVID).

The Jackets won the state title in 2017, 2019, 2021 and last year and were runners- up in 2018.