By BEN JOHNSON
MUSKOGEE — Mason Fielden hasn't succumbed to the flu bug that’s griping the nation right now. But his temperature was rather high on Saturday morning at the Muskogee Civic Center.
"I was just feeling hot," Fielden said, talking about his shooting stroke rather than his health and core body temperature.
"I figured since (Haskell) couldn't hold me, I figured I might as well drive in and shoot."
He certainly did. And at a high rate of success.
Hulbert's 6-foot-1 freshman guard drained 12 of 22 shots and recorded a career-high 29 points, propelling Hulbert to a 69-65 win over Haskell in the third-place game of the small school bracket of the Bedouin Shrine Classic.
“Unbelievable,” Hulbert coach Darron McCord said of Fielden. “For a freshman, he’s going to get better. That was unbelievable.”
Fielden was also the one to put his team ahead for good.
With the game tied — for the fourth time in the contest — at 60, Fielden buried a long two-point jumper to give Hulbert the edge — the 11th lead change of the game.
“It was just natural,” Fielden said. “I just made the shot, got the lead up and went and played some ball.”
Said McCord: “He’s just a rare athlete. He’s mentally smart, he’s basketball smart and he sees a lot of things. I don’t know how he developed that maturity, but he’s got the maturity already. I look forward to great things from Mason.”
Craig Potts also did his fair share of damage for the Riders (8-4). The 6-foot-4 center, despite going 6 of 16 from the free-throw line, tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Thanks to Potts, Hulbert also out-rebounded Haskell, 45-33.
The Riders were able to enjoy a mismatch inside once Haskell center, Michael Love, got into foul trouble. The 6-6 post player for the Haymakers picked up his third foul 18 seconds into the second half, and his fourth foul followed at the 2:56 mark of the third period.
Haskell’s 40-39 advantage when Love received his fourth foul turned into a 46-all game at the end of the third period. Hulbert, then, rattled off a 6-0 spurt to begin the fourth period, despite Love being back on the court.
Love quickly returned to the bench, though, picking up his fifth foul with 4:13 left. Love drew a blocking call on a driving shot to the basket by Potts.
That’s when Alex Wheeland took over for the Haymakers (3-6). The junior guard kept Haskell in the game, posting 11 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
But it wasn’t enough to keep up with Fielden.
“This is the kind of caliber of team we’re going to face in the playoffs,” McCord said. “It’s real important to me that we’re stepping up, and now we’re getting a little bit of that experience and maturity.”
The victory over Haskell caps a week that saw Hulbert avenge an early-season loss to Porter on Tuesday night, when the Riders won 62-42 in the first round. Hulbert, then, ended up in the third-place game after falling to Class 2A No. 2 Oktaha, 66-58, on Friday.
“This is a huge win; Haskell is a great team,” McCord said. “We faced three great teams this week, and like I said, it’s a step forward.”
Hulbert 69, Haskell 65
Has 12 17 17 19 - 65
Hul 17 17 12 23 - 69
Haskell (3-6): Alex Wheeland 22, Wes Davis 13, Wright 8, Dobbins 6, Atwell 6, Love 5, Young 5.
Hulbert (8-4): Mason Fielden 29, Craig Potts 18, Chris Vance 8, Brandon Thompson 6, Parker Taylor 6, Ricco Wynn 2.