By Chuck Reherman
OKLAHOMA CITY – Yukon got off to the start the Millers wanted.
It just wasn’t the finish they needed.
The Millers led No. 3 ranked Putnam City North early, but the Panthers had too many horses and ran away with an 89-58 win in the opening round of the West Region IV Tournament, at North High School.
The Millers, 5-19, hit their first four shots of the game and five of their first six. But, YHS also had five turnovers in that span that saw North counter with scores.
“We were running a little short on guys tonight and we kind of withered with some tiredness at the end,” Miller head coach Kevin Ritter said. “We were doing okay, we battled pretty hard the first half, but when we got to tired, shots got short and we weren’t moving on defense like we were earlier.
“We talked that we had to be aggressive,” he added. “North was looking at doing anything but to steal the ball, so when we weren’t going to the basket, we were asking for someone to steal the ball.”
The Millers had only one full practice all week (due to the weather) and one light practice, but Ritter said that really didn’t affect the game since other schools had to deal with it also.
Yukon trailed 23-15 going into the second quarter and saw North reel off the first five points to open a 13-point, 28-15 lead. The Millers did cut into the lead on a Kasten Berg trey, 28-20, then used a pair of steals and layups from Berg and Carson Price to come within six, 30-24, with 3:05 left in the half.
North, though, countered with an 8-0 run to open a 38-24 lead and led 38-26 at the break.
A four-point play from Berg (a trey and a free throw after a foul) cut the lead to 40-30 early in the third. North went on a 10-2 run over the next two minutes and pushed the lead to 50-32 with 4:11 left in the third. North pushed the lead to 22, 54-32 on a pair of buckets from Chris Braggs, then finished the quarter with a 9-6 run and a 63-38 lead.
Yukon led early in the game on a pair of Price field goals and a trey from Joe Feemster, 7-3. A Berg trey made it a 10-7 game (after North tied the contest).
North’s first lead came at the 3:41 mark, 11-10, but Price hit a follow shot that made it a 12-11 Miller lead. A pair of North steals keyed a 12-3 run to finish the quarter and opened a 23-15 lead.
Berg finished the game scoring 20 points. He hit eight shots from the field (including three treys). Price added 19 points, Carvell McKinley had seven and Caimon McGee had five. Blake Owen led North with 18, Thomas had 15 and Adokiye Iyaye added 14.
“We did a good job of getting the lead down to 10 in the second half, but we got that intentional foul and it went back up to 15,” Ritter said. “That just broke out back right there.
“North is a good team,” he said “They made their shots in the second half to spread out from us. We played good for a half and that has been the story of our whole season. Next year, we have to find a way to play a whole game and not just one or two quarters.”
By Chuck Reherman