Okarche uses pressure, tempo to wear down foes for district title
Despite not playing in more than two weeks, the Okarche Warriors were able to impose their will on a pair of district opponents.
The Warriors claimed a Class A district championship at home Saturday afternoon with a 72-30 victory against Drumright. That came one day after staving off elimination in a 63-37 win over Depew.
“Our press really worked,” said Okarche head coach Aaron West. “It gave us a lot of opportunities to score.”
Okarche hadn’t played since Jan. 26 when it beat Crescent.
On the next day, the school district opted to shut down the rest of the regular season as COVID cases climbed, including within the boys’ team.
Between quarantines and bad weather, the Warriors went more than two weeks without a full practice.
“That makes it tough to get ready for the playoffs,” West said.
And through three quarters against Depew, the future of Okarche’s playoffs was in doubt.
The Warriors led by five athalf and just three points entering the fourth.
Eventually, though, Depew wore down against the Warriors relentless pressure and up-tempo style.
Okarche ran the Hornets out of the gym with a 25-2 run in the fourth quarter.
In all, Okarche forced 38 turnovers and attempted 35 more field goals.
“We didn’t shoot it very well, but gave ourselves a lot more opportunities to score,” West said.
Logan Kroener scored 22 points, including some fourth quarter 3-pointers to help get some separation.
He added a team-high seven rebounds and also had seven steals.
Evan Endres added 13 points and eight steals while Brayden Stover scored 10 points.
The district championship against Drumright was much the same story, only a much faster start for the Warriors.
Okarche led 23-3 after a quarter. After extending the advantage to 25 points at the half, the Warriors came out with a 26-8 third-quarter run.
This time around, Okarche forced 41 turnovers and attempted 51 more shots.
“I think we were in better shape than them,” West said.
Asked how his team can be in shape with limited practices and multiple quarantines, he added: “I’m not saying we were in shape. Just better than them.”
Okarche, 10-9 on the season, scored 50 points off turnovers in the game.
Kroener again led the team as he scored 16 points.
Endres scored 15 while Stover added 12 as did P.K. Harris.
Okarche will host Thomas at 8 p.m. Thursday in a regional winner’s bracket game.
Thomas has beaten the Warriors twice this season by a combined 10 points.
“They’re a really solid team,” West said. “We need to practice this week to give ourselves the best shot to beat them...hopefully we’ll be able to.”
Okarche will host the entire regional tournament.
Long layoff doesn’t hamper Lady Warriors
Admittedly, Haley Mitchel wasn’t sure what to expect when her team took the court on Saturday afternoon.
Her Okarche Lady Warriors hadn’t played a game since Jan. 26 and practices were far from a given.
The team missed more than a week of practices during that stretch and only had about seven practices overall.
“COVID hit us pretty Mitchel said.
Most of the team didn’t come out of quarantine until last Tuesday. Others couldn’t return until the next day, giving the Lady Warriors little time to prepare.
The final score, however, didn’t show it.
Okarche had no problems handling a confident Depew squad, 67-34, to win the district title and move into this week’s regional in the winner’s bracket.
The Lady Warriors led by 20 points by halftime and forced 38 turnovers in the game.
Ryen Wittrock helped kickstart the early scoring with seven points in Okarche’s 19-10 run to the
Six different Lady Warriors scored in the second quarter.
Only five Depew players scored in the game, led by Rodman’s 13
Wittrock scored 18 points to pace Okarche, which upped its season record to 13-5.
Emma Stover scored 11 points, nine of which came in the first half.
Jalie Rother and Madison Owens scored eight points apiece.
Okarche hosts Thomas at 6 p.m. Thursday in the regional opener. Thomas defeated the Lady Warriors 52-43 on Jan. 15.