By Chuck Reherman
NORMAN – With 1:23 remaining, Yukon was poised to pull off an upset and advance in the playoffs.
In the third meeting of the season (and second in just over a week), the Millers were looking for that “third time is a charm” to advance in the playoffs.
Edmond Deer Creek kept that from happening.
The Antlers scored seven points in the final minute and held off YHS, 51-46, in the opening round of the Region 3 tournament at Norman North.
The Millers, 10-13, had led early in the game, withstood a Deer Creek run and battled back to regain the lead with 1:23 remaining on a driving shot by Carson Lambakis, 46-44.
YHS, though, would not score in the final minute and Deer Creek hit six of eight free throws in the final 59 seconds to pull out of the win and advance to the regional finals. DCHS lost to Norman North 84-48 in the finals.
“We had them down two in the end, but we didn’t get a shot up,” Miller head coach Kevin Ritter said. “We got a stop, got the rebound and they were missing some shots. It is a different game when it is not a 20-point game.
“We got some rebounds, we weren’t able to make some plays in the end when we needed them,” he said. “We had them in a spot we wanted them. We knew we could, we talked about it all week that this team was someone we could beat. We had them there, we just weren’t able to finish it.
“Deer Creek was having trouble in the halfcourt, we just spread it out and ran a ball screen and were getting good shots. They measured that one to go up by two and we weren’t able to get a shot off. We made a couple of turnovers. That is how it goes.”
The Millers were down six in the fourth quarter and came back to close to one after Colby Baker nailed a trey from the wing and Desmon Elliott scored on a rebounded shot, 42-41.
A Jayln Todd bucket gave Deer Creek a three point lead with 3:08 remaining.
Lambakis, after a DCHS turnover, hit a pull-up three-point jumper to tie the game at 44-44, then hit the go ahead shot with 1:23 left on a driving shot in the lane.
After a Deer Creek miss, the Millers had the chance to add to their lead, but turned the ball over with 1:07 left. That opened the door for the Antlers, who tied the game on a Miles Slater shot. Slater was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to put the Antlers back in front, 47-46.
A second Miller turnover and a forced foul sent Slater back to the line. He hit the first one, missed the second, but Jayln Todd grabbed the rebound and passed the ball out to Zack Tretheway, who was fouled.
He hit both free throws to open a 49-46 lead with 31 seconds left. He went back to the line after a third Miller turnover and iced the game with another free throw with 6.6 seconds remaining.
The Millers had gotten off to a fast start, taking a 5-2 lead on a trey from Lambakis. YHS went on an 8-3 run to open a 13-5 lead. YHS opened s 17-9 lead on a Tyler Dechant field goal 30 seconds into the second quarter.
Deer Creek went on a 9-0 run to take an 18-17 lead. A Lambakis trey put the Millers back on top, 20-17.
Austin Ruth’s three-point play tied the game 26-26 at halftime.
“I was proud of the way we started,” Ritter said. “We worked a lot on their stuff and took away what they wanted to do. The Trethewey kid is a very good player and the (Turner) Suekey kid hurt us the last game, but he didn’t do much.
“We did a good job of executing what we wanted to start off,” he said. “We had the eight point and we made some mistakes that let them get back into the game. But that is basketball. We made a run, they made a run, you just have to answer. Basketball is a game of ebb and flow. We answered for the most part, we had some big shots from our younger players (Baker and Brayden Dutton), it just wasn’t enough.”
Lambakis led the scoring with 12, Carson Price added 10, Elliott seven, and Dutton and Baker six each. The Millers finished the game hitting eight shots from behind the arc.
By Chuck Reherman