By GREG CREWS
The Guymon Daily Herald
GOODWELL, Okla. — The sprints, the suicides, the bleacher runs, all of the conditioning the Tyrone Bobcats had gone through during a season’s-worth of practices suddenly seemed worth it Thursday.
While clinging to a one-point lead in the third quarter, the Bobcats seemed to catch their second wind, stepping up their full-court press and breaking away from Goodwell en route to a 72-51 victory in the semifinals of the Class B, Region A Tournament at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
“I think it was just our conditioning,” Tyrone senior Tyler Lai said. “We try hard every day at practice. We have fun and everything but when it gets down to it, it’s just business.”
The Eagles were down 34-18 at halftime, but with a barrage of 3-pointers, they shrunk the margin to 40-39 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
That’s as close as they would get to taking the lead in the second half.
Tyrone (18-3) amped up the full-court pressure, coming up with eight steals in the final 9 minutes as they pushed back ahead by double digits (49-39) before running away with the game.
“They had some 3s fall down and they crawled back into it. But I’m proud of my guys because . we never let them take the lead,” Witt said. “We kept them from ever taking the lead and we finally recovered and then we took it the other direction.
“I’m proud of the guys. They really dug down deep and I think it shows some of our conditioning,” he added. “We run a ton, so we hope to have legs in the fourth quarter like that.”
The Bobcats advance to Saturday’s region final, where they will take on top-ranked Forgan, which beat Arnett on Thursday. By reaching the championship game, Tyrone is also guaranteed a berth to the Area 1 Tournament.
Goodwell (13-9), meanwhile, falls to the consolation bracket. It will face Leedey Friday in an elimination game. If the Eagles hope to stay alive they will have to find a way to cut out the turnover issues that plagued them against Tyrone.
“We had 29 turnovers. Any time you have that many turnovers, it’s not going to be good,” Goodwell coach Shawn Strain said. “We just got rattled. It was a 2-2-1 press (by Tyrone), and they are athletic, they get after it, but we got rattled. We never should have turned the ball over that many times. We just didn’t take care of the ball.”
Tyrone struck first in the game as Adam Lomas hit a jump shot just 16 seconds in and the Bobcats never trailed.
By the end of the first quarter Tyrone led 16-11 before making it a 16-point lead going into halftime.
Both teams shot well from behind the 3-point arc in the first half - Tyrone hit 5-of-6 and Goodwell hit 2-of-3 — but in the third quarter the Eagles somehow managed to do even better.
While the Bobcats missed all three of their long-range shots in the third quarter, the Eagles went 3-for-3 and quickly found themselves back in the game.
“We had a great third quarter,” Strain said. “We made a great run. We had it cut to one point, we had all the momentum in the world, and then we got rattled by the press.”
The Bobcats capped the third quarter with four straight points to go up 44-39 and they stretched it into a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter as they put Goodwell in the rearview mirror for good.
Junior center Sammy Frickey led Goodwell with 18 points and eight rebounds and junior Terry Dawkins finished with 11 points, 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Junior Erik Carrillo had nine points, while sophomores Austin Glover and Kenneth Mason had five each and junior Ryan Bryant added three points.
Sophomore guard Austin Olivas led Tyrone with 25 points, senior center Jacob Williams scored all 14 of his points in the second half and Lai recorded 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Junior Travis Shield had five points and six steals, while senior Colter White, sophomore Cole Wall and Lomas each had five points as well for Bobcats, who play at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling (to reach the final). It’s the first time it’s happened at Tyrone in I don’t know how long,” said Lai, whose team won’t have long to celebrate the win as they prepare for Forgan. “We’ve just got to come out with fire. We haven’t played anybody that is just that aggressive on defense. but I think we are ready for them.”