ALEX — The Ninnekah Owls never backed down against Class A’s No. 1 team.
Competing in the championship game of the Longhorn Classic in Alex for the third time in the past five seasons, the Owls erased a double-digit deficit in a 42-40 loss to the Calumet Chieftains on Saturday. The Owls were in the championship game for the first time since 2017.
The Owls advanced to their second championship game of the season with wins over Union City and Stratford. They also advanced to the championship game of Binger-Oney’s tournament and finished second.
Calumet advanced to the title game with wins over Mountain View-Gotebo and Alex.
The Owls showed early that they were going to be a tough test for the Chieftains. Tyler Hill scored Ninnekah's first seven points, and the Owls held a 9-5 lead through the first 14 points of the game. Hill ended the game with 21 points for the Owls.
The Owls held an 11-9 lead before a late basket gave the Chieftains a 12-11 advantage heading to the second quarter.
Ninnekah continued to hang around and held a 19-18 lead in the second quarter, but a Calumet basket gave the Chieftains a 20-19 lead at halftime.
It seemed as if the Chieftains were going to pull away in the third quarter. After the Owls took a 23-22 lead, the Chieftains went up by double digits in the quarter with a long scoring run and led by eight points heading to the fourth quarter.
But the Owls were able to work their way back. A 3-pointer brought them to within three points, making the score 35-32 in favor of the Chieftains. Ninnekah got within two multiple times before a Jackson Curtis basket tied the game at 40 points apiece.
But the final answer came from Calumet, and the Chieftains were able to survive. Ninnekah had the chance to send the game to overtime or win it outright, but the Owls could not score.