Jackets pull away from upset-minded Blanchard in 4A quarterfinals
The fourth quarter belonged to Bijan Cortes and the Kingfisher Yellowjackets.
And they needed it.
Kingfisher took over down the stretch to hold off a stingy and upset-minded Blanchard squad 46-34 in the Class 4A quarterfinals at State Fair Arena.
The win put the Jackets into the semifinals for the fourth consecutive time (excluding last year’s COVID-canceled tournament). Kingfisher plays Classen SAS at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Arena.
The Jackets thumped Blanchard 91-52 on the road on Jan. 19, but the 13th-ranked Lions’ defensive strategy and effectiveness were much different this time around.
The Lions held Kingfisher to 20 points in the first half and the Jackets were unable to break the 30-point barrier until 6:17 of the fourth.
Kingfisher (23-1)entered the final frame with a slim 28-25 lead, but it soon became the “Bijan show.”
The senior drove and dished to Jarret Birdwell and Ian Daugherty for back-to-back buckets.
The Daugherty bump gave the Jackets a 34-29 lead with 5:00 to play and was the start of a 12-2 run until the game’s waning moments.
Cortes scored or assisted on 14 of Kingfisher’s 18 fourth-quarter points.
He was 6 for 6 from the foul line in the fourth after making just 5 of 9 in the first half.
Birdwell also made all four of his fourth-quarter foul attempts to help the Jackets pull away.
Cortes finsihed with 22 points and four assists.
Matthew Stone scored nine points and Birdwell eight.
Daugherty scored five and led the team with six rebounds.
Blanchard (20-7) was led by Caleb Reed’s 11 points.
The Lions fell behind by 10 points in the second quarter before going on a 7-0 run.
KHS led 20-15 at halftime and was shooting just 33 percent.
The Jackets ended up 40 percent for the game, but were just 1 of 10 from 3-point range.
KHS went 21 of 27 from the free throw line. Cortes was 11 of 15.
Blanchard made all nine of its attempts.