By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
PARK HILL — The Keys boys grinded out a 54-51 overtime victory over Vinita in the semifinals of the Cougar Invitational Thursday night at Cougar Fieldhouse.
Keys was led by guard Trevor Eubanks who, despite turning the ball over nine times and making just 5-of-14 shot attempts, found a way down the stretch to make the plays necessary to pull out the victory. Eubanks finished with 18 points.
“It’s so nice to have more than one go-to guy when you need a score,” Keys coach Duane Jones said. “Trevor had to force the ball some in overtime because he really didn’t receive much help, but our defense really stepped up when we needed it and he led us to the win.”
The Cougars built an early 16-8 advantage thanks in large part to Payton Ragsdale. The forward scored the first 14 points of the game for the home team and finished with 23 overall. He had poured in 19 by intermission but was forced to miss most of the second half due to foul trouble.
“Payton had several offensive rebounds early, and he got us the lead with an impressive first half,” Jones said. “I was real proud of how our kids responded when he picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter.”
Ragsdale had to sit and watch his team pull out the victory from the sidelines after fouling out with 1:41 to play in the fourth quarter. He played only eight minutes of the second half but finished 11 of 13 from the field.
Rasgdale’s presence was a big reason the home team outrebounded the Hornets 23-5 in the first half, and Keys took a 32-24 lead into intermission.
Vinita shaved just one point off the deficit in the third quarter, but the visitors erupted for 19 fourth-quarter points to tie proceedings.
The comeback began with the home team holding a 41-34 advantage with 7:27 to play. An 8-1 run powered by Garret Maxey and Gage Bertram knotted the game at 42-42, and the two squads battled to a 51-51 standstill at the end of regulation.
Vinita did not score in overtime, going 0-for-5 from the field. The game was won on the foul line, as Eubanks made two and Tyler Blankenship made one for the three-point triumph.
Maxey led the Hornets with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Bertram added 15 and Phillip Willis contributed 10 points, four steals and three boards.
Keys 45, Poteau 43 (girls)
The usual suspects were on display for the Keys girls as the Lady Cougars earned a 45-43 win over Poteau in the semifinals of the Cougar Invitational Thursday night at Cougar Fieldhouse.
Sydni Rainbolt put together another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Mylee Hewitt led all scorers with 19 points despite battling foul trouble.
Hewitt started the game slow, scoring just seven points on 2-of-6 shooting in the first half, but Rainbolt picked up her teammate with nine points and seven boards in the opening 16 minutes.
Hewitt came up big when it mattered though, as a 12-point second half and a plethora of clutch plays late was enough to give her team the win.
“Mylee had a hard time understanding what we were trying to do in the first half,” Keys coach Mickey Duncan said. “She picked up two quick fouls and we really had to manage her minutes for the majority of the game. I knew she had to be on the floor for us late, so I had to keep taking her out on defense and I think that frustrated her.”
Keys found itself leading 19-11 after the first quarter, but a 12-5 second quarter went in favor of the visitors as the Lady Cougars took a narrow 24-23 edge into halftime.
The home team maintained the one-point advantage heading into the fourth, but a quick 5-0 run to start the final frame gave Poteau a 37-33 edge with 6:19 to play. Rachel Lawrence cut the lead in half at 6:10, and Hewitt tied the game with a layup at 5:12.
Consecutive buckets from Kaitlan Standridge and Montana Roll gave the visitors another four-point lead with 3:48 to play, but back-to-back layups from Hewitt yet again tied the contest at 41-41 at the 1:23 mark.
Hewitt grabbed a huge rebound on Poteau’s next possession, and she nailed the game-winning three-point basket from the corner with just 26 seconds to play.
“This is the fourth time we’ve been in this situation where it comes down to just managing one possession,” Duncan said. “Mylee did a good job finishing the ball game when we needed her most. It’s nice to have a senior step up and be a leader.”
Roll led Poteau with 12 points, and Colleen Peterson added eight points and 13 rebounds for the visitors.