Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
BIXBY, Okla. —
The Chickasha High School boys basketball team is going to the state tournament for the first time since 2004-05 after beating Bishop Kelley in the area consolation finals Saturday night.
The Fightin’ Chicks won the game 44-41, and got that 16th win they needed to make state, as head coach Bryan Merritt had been preaching all season.
“It was a grinder of a game,” Merritt said. “It wasn’t pretty at all, we were just tough enough and made the plays at the end to win it.”
E.J. Golightly scored 22 points and Joey Sylvester scored 12 in the victory, as the two seniors have at least one more week as Chickasha basketball players.
Chickasha will be in the state tournament for only the fourth time since 1970, and Merritt has been a part of the team for each of those seasons. In 1988 he was a player, and in 2003-04 and 2004-05 he was an assistant coach.
Merritt said he was proud of how his team won, saying it fits his own personality, and he gave the credit to his players for the accomplishment.
“I consider myself to be a grinder,” Merritt said. “I’d rather have a 16-10 team that goes to the state tournament in a game like that and overcomes adversity than a team that’s 27-0.
“I told them that I just really appreciate being a part of it,” he said. “The kids do it, the coach has about 10 percent to do with it, and the players have about 90.”
Chickasha will begin play in the state tournament Thursday, with the matchups and locations of games still to be announced.
Check the Express-Star and www.ChickashaNews.com for the latest updates on the basketball postseason.