By John Martin
The Choctaw Yellowjackets held off a late charge by El Reo to post a thrilling 56-55 victory in the championship finals of the 49th Annual Harrah Panther Classic Saturday night. The victory was also the Jackets’ sixth straight victory to open the 2017 campaign.
The Jackets fought an uphill battle early falling behind by 14-13 after one quarter and 29-25 at halftime. But tournament MVP Brock Schreiner had two free throws with 10 seconds left in the third period to finally give Choctaw the lead.
And Brian Beale’s Boys never lost it as they battled it out with the defending tourney champion El Reno squad in the final period.
Two baskets by Steven Ponds and one by Cole Cornsilk pushed the CHS lead to 49-43 and All-Tournament honoree Austin Daugherty added two more for a 51-46 lead. Daugherty,. Schreiner and Trey Black added 8 free throws in clutch time to clinch the championship trophy.
Daugherty led a balanced attack with 16 points, while Schreiner and Ponds each had 11, Cornsilk added 9 and Black added 8. Brennan White had the other basket.
The Jackets will seek to keep their 2017 record unblemished with a Friday contest at Lawton Eisenhower and a trip to Enid on Tuesday to wrap up the pre-holiday action.
IN THE SEMIFINALS, the Jackets held off a furious second half rally by Star-Spencer to defeat the Bobcats, 69-64, to keep their 2017 streak intact at five straight.
Trey Black tallied 13 points and the Jackets applied a smothering defense to take a 36-20 lead at intermission. But the Bobcats pumped in 44 points in the second half and got to within three points on two separate occasions.
Brock Schreiner continued his brilliant early season performances as he tallied 25 points, including 12 in the final quarter when the Bobcats were making a serious run. He also handed out 9 assists and joined Black and Cole Cornsilk to keep the CHS offense and defense up to speed with the lightning-quick SS boys.
Black finished with 13 points
and Cornsilk added 9 to the Jackets’ three-guard configuration. Dempsey Alm and Jared Hall each had six.
Star pulled to within 65-62 with a minute left, but Schreiner dished off to Austin Daugherty for a layup, then hit a layup and two free throws while Star was scoring just two points.
SCHREINER TALLIED 27 points to keep the Jackets undefeated for the season as Choctaw disposed of John Marshall, 75-57, highlighted by a 30-point final quarter as Brian Beale’s boys finally put the pesky Bears away.
Schreiner connected at the buzzer to give the Jackets an 18-17 lead after just one quarter of play. The CHS playmaker had 10 points in the first period to keep the Jackets in the game.
Austin Daugherty had a pair of free throws at the halftime buzzer to give the Jackets a 28-25 margin after two periods of play. With a narrow 33-30 lead early in the third period, Jared Hall and Trey Black had buckets, Black downed two free throws and Schreiner had a traditional three-point play and a trey from the key and the Jackets took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Accurate free throw shooting plus tenacious defense allowed the Jackets to slowly increase their lead in the final period as the final score was the largest lead of the contest.
In addition to Schreiner’s 27, Daugherty finished with 26 while Black and Jared Hall each added 20.