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Title defense officially under way

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Defending 4A champ Kingfisher topples Newcastle behind Cortes, Stone

  • KHS JUNIOR Matthew Stone lays in a bucket during his team’s season-opening win at Newcastle last week. Stone had 17 points and 15 rebounds for second-ranked KHS.             [Photo by Chris                           Simon/www.simon-sports-photos.s
    KHS JUNIOR Matthew Stone lays in a bucket during his team’s season-opening win at Newcastle last week. Stone had 17 points and 15 rebounds for second-ranked KHS. [Photo by Chris Simon/www.simon-sports-photos.s
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    Kingfisher Yellowjackets vs. Newcastle Racers

A new era of Kingfisher High School boys basketball got a familiar result in its season opener.

The Yellowjackets got standout performances from Matthew Stone and Bijan Cortes and they got more than enough help in a 58-40 victory Tuesday night in Newcastle.

“There were times we looked pretty good,” said KHS head coach Jared Reese, who graduated three starters and a half-dozen seniors overall from last year’s Class 4A state championship team.

“There are some things we’ll need to get better at, but this was a good start.”

Stone and Cortes are juniors starting for their third year, but are playing for the first time without the likes of Trey Green, Jett Sternberger and Reece Lafferty.

They answered the call the first time out.

Stone was a beast with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

“When was the last time we had someone grab that many rebounds? Jace Sternberger?” asked Reese. “That’s a big number.”

Rebounding overall pleased Reese as KHS won the board battle 33-25.

“They’re (Newcastle) big and athletic, so we were concerned about that going in,” Reese said.

KHS, ranked second in Class 4A, also had just 10 turnovers.

“We kept the number low and made sure the ones we did have didn’t lead to points,” Reese said.

Cortes led the team with 19 points while adding five rebounds, fi ve assists, two steals and two blocks.

The guard has an offer from the University of Oklahoma, among other Division I universities, and played with Sooners’ head coach Lon Kruger on the front row.

The Jackets led 13-5 after a quarter, then picked up offensively in the second.

Cortes scored 10 of Kingfisher’s 20 points in the frame.

A Maverick Ridenour 3-pointer closed the fi rst half and gave KHS a 33-17 advantage.

“That was a big shot,” Reese said. “Going into half up 16 seems so much larger than 13 points.”

Newcastle never threatened in the second half as KHS held the Racers to 30 percent shooting.

KHS countered with 46 percent, a number that was hurt from beyond the arc.

The Jackets connected on just 7 of 23 3-point attempts.

“We’ve got to improve that, but I think we will,” Reese said. “We had some open looks that we’ll make more often than not.”

Ridenour and Cortes made two treys apiece.

KHS also got 10 points from Jarret Birdwell, another junior, who was 5 of 9 from the fi eld.

Newcastle, ranked 11th in 4A’s initial poll, was led by Kalub Hunt’s 14 points. He was the only Racer in double fi gures.