By JASON EPP
• Leader & Times
TURPIN, Okla. — The Texhoma Red Devils used an 18-4 third quarter to blow open a close game, and advance to the district finals by defeating the Turpin Cardinals 55-37.
Leading 24-20 to start the second half, Texhoma began to force the issue defensively, and forced nine Cardinal turnovers and blocked two shots in the third quarter. These turnovers led to transition baskets, and open looks for the Red Devils guards.
“We have preached defense and rebounding all week, and I think we won both categories tonight,” Texhoma coach Greg Higgins said. “I knew he was going to make our guards do some things that he was going to pack it in around our post players, because that’s the strength of our team. We attacked some gaps and got some easy bump shots.”
Jack Powers drilled a three with 4:57 left in the third to push Texhoma’s lead to 11, and served as their first made field goal of the game that was outside the paint. Jeremiah Amaya got hot from the left corner, and knocked down two more threes for the Red Devils who led 42-24 after three.
“Third quarter is what killed us,” Cardinals coach Gary Wallace said. “We had low energy, and turned the ball over. (We) can’t beat people doing that. Ball handling was terrible and we couldn’t get in sets. They were gambling, and we couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Turpin took the early 11-8 lead by scoring on six straight possessions. Texhoma battled back and lead 12-11 until Turpin’s Bradley Kinser drilled a three as the first quarter buzzer sounded.
In the second quarter, Texhoma regained the lead, by continuing to pound the ball inside to 6’7” Jacob Murphy, who scored 14 in the first half and totaled 17 in the game. Turpin was able to tie the game three separate times in the second quarter, but could never regain the lead.
“First half, I thought we should have had the lead at the half,” said Wallace. “I thought we missed several opportunities to get easy shots. We haven’t played in two weeks, and I think that really hurt us.”
Beyond 17 points from Murphy, Texhoma got 9 points from Tyler Ansley, 8 from Jeremiah Amaya, and 5 from Jack Powers. Turpin was led in scoring by Francisco Regelado with 14, and Matt Mendoza, Bradley Kinser, and senior Allen Keene in his final game as a Cardinal each added 6.
“Overall, I think we improved a lot as a team. Allen (Keene) improved so much while I’ve had him, and we’ll miss him next year.”
Turpin finished the season with a record of 9-13. Texhoma is 11-10.