By JASON EPP
High Plains Daily Leader
BEAVER — The Texhoma Red Devils took a 9-0 lead early and never trailed on their way to a 59-53 win over the Turpin Cardinals in the opening round of the Regional tournament.
Texhoma used its size to get baskets in the paint, and made enough outside shots to keep the Cardinals honest on defense.
"We wanted to force them to defend us inside, Red Devil coach Greg Higgins said. "We did that, and Derrek (Nye) and Matt (Freeman) made them pay when they were open on the perimeter."
After going scoreless for the first 5:39, Aaron Kuns got Turpin back in the game hitting two shots in the paint against taller defenders and sinking two free throw attempts in the first. Konner Hood made Turpin's first three of the game as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first. Texhoma led 11-9.
Konner Hood scored from just inside the arc on Turpin's first possesion of the second to knot the game at 11. It was the only time in the game Texhoma did not lead.
Matt Freeman drained a three 16 seconds later to regain the lead for the Red Devils. Braydon Robinson scored on consecutive possessions for the Cardinals to close within one at 16-15, but Blake Mikles answered with two baskets in the paint to extend the lead back to five.
Cash Overton's three gave Texhoma a six point lead at 25-19, but Keifer Hood's followup three cut the lead to three at the half, with Texhoma leading 25-22.
The game continued to see-saw back and forth early in the third. Trey Freeman was able to help Texhoma build another five point lead midway through the third at 32-27. Turpin was able to stay close by getting three point plays the old fashion way. First, Konner Hood drove the lane, made the shot and added the free throw. After an Allen Keene jumper Blake Scott drove to the hoop, made the basket and added the free throw to make it a one point game again.
Matt Freeman scored in the paint and Nye hit a wide open three to give the Red Devils a 40-33 lead. But Blake Scott scored and again hit from the free throw line to keep the game tight at 40-38. Texhoma was able to add to their lead and led at the end of three 44-38.
Less than a minute into the fourth, Nye again found himself wide open in the right corner and nailed a three. Tanquary scored on a put back to give the Red Devils an 11 point lead with 6:17 left in the game.
"Derrek (Nye) told his teamates at half that they aren't going to guard me and I'm not going to let you guys down," Coach Higgins said.
"He had a great mental attitude going out into the second half."
Knowing that time was short, Turpin turned up the heat defensively, and forced Texhoma to turn the ball over and make bad decisions. The Cardinals went on an 11-2 run to cut the gap to two at 53-51, with 80 seconds left in the game.
But Texhoma hit six straight free throws and Turpin was unable to again except for a buzzer-beater to make the final score 59-53.
"Basketball is all about matchups," Cardinal coach Gary Wallace said.
"They are a tough matchup for us, because they can matchup so well with our guards. Aaron (Kuns) played great inside. Braydon (Robinson) didn't play that well, but he had been sick. I give him credit for his effort but it just wasn't there for him tonight."
Aaron Kuns led the Cardinals in scoring with 14, Blake Scott had 12, and Konner Hood added 10. Trey Freeman scored 13 for Texhoma, Tanquary and Nye each score 12, and Matt Freeman added 11.
Texhoma will continue on in the winner's bracket and will play Seiling, who upset No.1 Pioneer Thursday night, in Mooreland at 8 p.m. for the Regional Championship. Turpin will play Ringwood Friday at 8 p.m. in Mooreland.