By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
OKLAHOMA CITY—An epic battle between the two schools who have claimed the last three Class B championships was filled with big shots and big plays by both teams. In the end, Forgan made just a few more big plays, defeating Arnett 66-61 in overtime to earn a slot in Saturday night’s championship game with Lookeba-Sickles.
After missing the front end of three straight 1-and-1s, Forgan righted their ship at the foul line in the final two minutes of overtime, making 6 of 8 free throws to seal the victory.
“There were so many champions on the floor tonight, Bulldogs coach Todd Kerr. “It showed and the pressure showed in the way both teams missed free throws. It was two great teams battling it out. We finally got a few to go. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys. We obviously didn’t play perfect but we made big plays when we had to and showed a lot of heart and guts.”
Forgan came out of the halftime locker room and quickly scored when Jace Kerr scored in the paint on the Bulldogs first possession. Chandler Bryer then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid up a shot to put Forgan up 39-34. Forgan went on a 10-4 run to start the second half, and led 45-38 with less than four minutes left in the third.
Arnett countered with seven straight points to knot the game at 45.
“We saw a couple of things that we thought we could take advantage of and did,” Kerr said. “They adjusted like good teams do, and were able to counter that.”
Forgan scored again to lead 47-45. Forgan played for the final shot, but missed. Arnett’s Tyler Tune grabbed the rebound dribbled and heaved the ball towards their goal as the buzzer sounded. The shot fell short, but Tune was inexplicably fouled on the desperation shot.
Tune stepped to the line with a chance to take the lead, tie or at least cut the lead back to one heading into the fourth.
Tune missed all three, and momentum seemed to swing back to the Bulldogs.
“You could absolutely feel it in the whole building,” Kerr said. “You could see us get excited when that happened.”
In the first minute of the fourth, Luis Ordonez found himself alone, and drained a three from the wing to put Forgan up by five. But Arnett quickly answered with a three, then Tune converted a three point play to put Arnett up 51-50 with 4:49 left. Arnett extended the lead to 55-50 with 1:31 left.
Jace Kerr got the Bulldogs back in it with a three-point play, followed by another Ordonez three to reclaim the lead for Forgan.
Kerr missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 15.9 seconds left with Forgan leading by one, and Arnett had a chance to win the game. But Ordonez knocked the ball out of bounds off of an Arnett player with 8.1 seconds left.
Bryer was quickly fouled on the inbounds, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Tune was fouled and went to the line with 5.3 seconds left. Tune missed the first, but made the second to tie the game.
Bryer’s buzzer-beater hit the back of the rim, but did not fall, sending the game to overtime.
Forgan finished the game 24-48 from the field, was 8 of 20 from 3-point range, and 10-21 at the line. Arnett was 24-51 from the field, 7-18 from three, and 6-13 at the free throw line.
Jace Kerr finished 8-16, including a pair of threes for 22 points. Kerr also grabbed 11 rebounds. Chandler Bryer was 6-12 from the field, and drained four threes for 18 points. Cameron Vanatta came off the bench for 10 points and five rebounds.
For Arnett it was Tyler Tune with 36 points on 14 of 30 shooting, including 4 threes. Tune also grabbed 14 rebounds. Nicholas Smith scored 14.
The game started with two teams with hot hands. Forgan’s first five baskets were all threes (two by Kerr, three by Bryer). Tune countered for the Wildcats with a three point play and three threes in the first quarter, and another three by Nicolas Smith.
Six straight baskets changed the lead, then Arnett went up 21-17, then Forgan finished the first quarter up 24-23.
Bryer scored 11 for the Bulldogs in the first quarter. Tune had 14 for the Wildcats.
The second quarter saw much the same thing with the two teams trading baskets, including four straight shots that were lead changes.
Arnett shot 50 percent in the first half, and was 5 of 11 from beyond the arc. Forgan shot 54 percent from the field, and was 6 of 13 from three.
Forgan will now have to quickly regroup with the championship game less than 22 hours away when the semi-final was completed.
“It’s a very emotional game and we/re going to have to get rest and get refocused and treat injuries,” Kerr said. “But there will be some hardware in here tomorrow that will be all anyone would need to be focused and ready to play.”