Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 1, 2013

Cougars beat Westville, advance in area tournament

FORT GIBSON — Keys is trying to take a different trek to the state tournament this season. After winning regional titles the past three seasons, the Cougars are attempting to navigate through the area consolation bracket.

So far so good.

Trevor Eubanks torched Westville for 21 points as Class 3A No. 15 Keys held off the Yellowjackets, 44-39, at Fort Gibson’s Harrison Fieldhouse on Thursday afternoon.

Next up for Keys in the Area III consolation semifinals will be 3A No. 16 Adair today at 3 p.m. in Fort Gibson.

“We just have to battle through,” Keys coach Duane Jones said. “I think we can be there (the state tournament), we just have to take a different path.”

The Cougars (14-12) kept their season alive mainly because Eubanks came to life in the third quarter.

After Westville cut Keys’ lead to 24-21, Eubanks buried three consecutive 3-pointers and eventually converted an old-fashioned three-point play to up the Cougars’ advantage to 36-25 with 26 seconds left in the third period.

“I just had to quit thinking and shoot,” said Eubanks, who finished 5 of 16 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line. “We finally got the ball inside and then I got open looks.”

Westville, which ends its season at 16-11, came as close as six (37-31) midway through the fourth quarter, but a rebound and a stick-back by Keys’ Mason Turman all but sealed the victory for Keys, which went up 41-31 with 3:02 left.

The Yellowjackets being within five at the end was the result of some cosmetic work late when Justin Self made two treys. Self, the only Westville player to score in double figures, led the Yellowjackets with 12 points.

“I felt like we controlled the game,” said Eubanks, who also grabbed six rebounds. “It was a five-point game, but I felt like it was a 20-point lead. Felt like we controlled the game and played good.”

Neither team excelled at shooting the basketball, with Keys finishing at 31.1 percent (14 of 45) from the field. Westville was even worse at 28.1 percent (16 of 57).

“We didn’t shoot very well,” said Westville coach Eudean McVey, who last took the Yellowjackets to the area tournament in 2005.

“...We just couldn’t bust a shot when we needed to. It kind of put us behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

The biggest in the game was enjoyed by Keys on the glass. The Cougars out-rebounded Westville 43-32.

“I thought we did a good job in the boards, overall,” said Jones, whose team enjoyed a 26-15 rebounding edge in the first half. “I thought our defense was really good, too. They’re a 3-point shooting team that likes to drive and kick, and we didn’t give them any opportunities.”

Credit Keys’ proficiency in the rebounding department to the return of senior post player, Peyton Ragsdale. After missing the Cougars’ two regional-tournament games, Ragsdale returned and had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“That kind of opens everything up,” Jones said of having Ragsdale back. “You saw it yourself, they’re committing two or three guys to him (on the block) and having other people help. That opened Trevor up and it opened the other post up.”

Keys now needs two more wins in the area tournament to secure its second trip to the state tournament in school history.

“It’s magic number five now,” Eubanks said. “We’re trying to get to the state championship, and we’re two more days away from getting (to the state tournament).”

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