CHICKASHA — With the odds stacked against them, Chickasha made a game out of their meeting with No. 8 ranked Deer Creek that they lost 50-46 on Friday.
The Fightin’ Chicks did enough to keep things interesting right up until the end against a ranked opponent that easily outsized them. A tough defensive front was balanced by a nice offensive performance by Brandon Shumway, who led the team with 15 points. Brock Henderson was close behind, scoring 14 points.
But at some point, that size did matter. Conner Avants, the 6’ 6” junior forward, came away with a game-high 20 points, while his partner in crime, 6’ 5” senior Caleb Eldrige, came up with 11. Chickasha was able to shut down Eldridge in the second half, limiting him to just three points.
Chickasha struck early and often up against a towering Antlers’ team, and it paid off. Both Henderson and Shumway hit from beyond the arc in the first half and were the main sources of points for the Fightin’ Chicks throughout the contest.
But the big battle was happening down low on the Deer Creek end, and they were bossing it. Avants sunk his fourth close range jumper as the second quarter started to take him to 8 points quickly. The other towering forward, Eldridge, was more long-term with his scoring, picking up a slow eight to share the game-high lead at halftime with his teammate and Henderson.
Perhaps more important were the baskets the Antlers did not put in. They missed more open shots than a team with their size advantage should, and that left the door open for Chickasha. Shumway drove the lane, bobbing and weaving for a layup as the seconds ticked down to halftime. That put Chickasha up by two at halftime over the ranked Antlers.
Deer Creek went back to Avants-ball in the third quarter, and he quickly put them in the ascendency. He scored 10 points in the third quarter alone. By the end of it, Deer Creek led, but only by two. A three from Shumway kept Deer Creek within a one-possession reach.
A 9-2 run by the Antlers extended their lead midway through the fourth quarter. Another three from Shumway brought that to an end, but it still left Chickasha needing to foul and try to force turnovers.