Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The Chickasha High School boys basketball team gave up a big early lead Tuesday night against Western Heights, but made the plays down the stretch to get a road win against the Jets.
The Fightin’ Chicks beat Western Heights 54-50, and are now 2-1 this season.
"We just gutted up," head coach Bryan Merritt said. "That was a gut-check on the road. I'm really happy for the guys. I had to work my tail off, still, just to find that fifth guy to run the plays."
With injuries limiting the rotation of an already shorthanded Chickasha team, Merritt wasn't sure how his team would fare against the very athletic Jets.
"We had three of our top seven players go down, it was our first road game, we had a kid starting that's never even started a JV game, and Deshawn coming in after being with us for three days," Merritt said. "Coming in here I didn't think there was a five percent chance of us being able to win, just knowing what they've got, so I was just really happy to win."
Rashawn Thomas started the game in place of Levi Kell, who recently went down with an ankle injury. Deshawn Young, who just joined the team a few days before the game, saw significant minutes off the bench.
There was some pride on the line in the game between the Chicks and Jets, and Merritt said Western Heights may have underestimated Chickasha.
"This game is really big for us, because I promise that Western Heights is going to beat a lot of people," Merritt said. "I know they were on Twitter a little bit saying that since Jacobi [Davis] graduated we were going to be terrible. And they came and watched the Noble game, and I don't think they thought we were very good. This is a huge win for us going forward."
Chickasha led by double-digits in the second quarter, but by the end of the third quarter, Western Heights was only down one point, and took a 44-42 lead with five minutes to go in the game.
The Jets’ largest lead was four points, and occurred with 4:30 to play, when a Chickasha turnover led to a Western Heights fast break layup.
Down 46-43 with 3:41 left, Joey Sylvester hit a contested corner 3-point shot to tie the game, and gave the Fightin’ Chicks the lead with a layup on a fast break less than a minute later.
Western Heights guard Tim Tullis made one out of two free throws to make the score 48-47, then gave the Jets a 49-48 lead with a fall-away layup with two minutes left.
The game was tied at 50 with 14.9 seconds left, and Western Heights had the ball. Coming out of a timeout, the Jets committed a traveling violation after an errant pass, giving Chickasha the ball with 10.9 seconds left and a chance to win.
E.J. Golightly was pushed with 5.1 seconds left, and with Western Heights over the foul limit, he went to the line to shoot two, making both.
Western Heights turned the ball over again on its last play, and Sylvester was fouled with 0.8 seconds left. He made both free throws to seal the game.
Sylvester led Chickasha in scoring with 20 points. Golightly scored 18, and Datious Dufur scored 12. Dakota Goombi and Blake Baker had two points each.
Chickasha’s next game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 at Elgin.