January 15, 2013

Fightin' Chicks can't close in tournament

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — The Chickasha High School basketball team played six good quarters of basketball Friday and Saturday in the last two rounds of the Chickasha Basketball Classic tournament.

Problem was, the two worst quarters were the fourth quarters of the two games.

The Fightin' Chicks had leads after the third quarters of both their games; 10 points up against Redemption Christian and one point ahead of Altus, but ended up losing both games.

Chickasha lost 65-61 to Redemption Christian and 58-45 to Cache, and finished fourth in the tournament, dropping the team's record to 6-4.

The Fightin' Chicks appeared at a glance to be overmatched against Redemption Christian, an extremely athletic homeschool team from Houston, Texas.

RCHA was led by Khadeem Lattin, a 6-foot-9 junior center who already has scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Alabama, Arizona, Georgetown, TCU and Texas A&M.

But the Fightin' Chicks were unphased by RCHA's credentials or pre-game dunk show in warm-ups, out-playing their opponent all the way up to the end of the third, when the Chicks led 49-39.

"We played great. Couldn't play any better," head coach Bryan Merritt said. "Datious [Dufur]…I don't even know who that was. That dude was playing hard the whole time, running up and down the court. Dakota was hitting jumpers in peoples' face. We're runing the pick-and-roll play, and E.J. is running it like we're in the NBA."

But, a fourth quarter in which Chickasha was out-scored 26-12 ended hopes of an upset for Chickasha.

Joey Sylvester had one of his best games of the season, against the best player he's seen all season, scoring 26 points against Lattin, while Lattin only scored seven in the game.

"Joey out-played him. It wasn't close," Merritt said. "If we had any college scouts in the house, they'd be a fool not to talk to Joey, with the way he plays. He's a good kid. He can get an academic scholarship, and he does everything right."

In Saturday's third-place game against Cache, a team that beat the Chickasha boys in the second round of last year's tournament, the Fightin' Chicks had a fourth-quarter meltdown.

"We were never playing good," Merritt said. "But the first and second quarters, we were playing hard enough to keep a little lead. The only time we really played well was about the first 2:30 of the game."

In that short span, Chickasha had Cache down 9-0, although the Bulldogs kept the game closer than that throughout.

Cache didn't take its first lead in the game until late in the third quarter. In the fourth, center Kolten Nading led his team on a 20-5 run that put the game away.

"In the second half, we didn't deserve to win that game at all," Merritt said. "We did not do what it takes defensively and pretty much gave them whatever they wanted."

Nading scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Golightly was Chickasha's leading scorer with 21 points.

The Fightin' Chicks will host Deer Creek at 8 p.m. tonight.