By Chuck Reherman
NORMAN – There is two words to best describe Yukon’s first trip to the class 6A Area Tournament in the past eight years.
Heartbreaking and gutwrenching.
The Millerettes couldn’t get their shots to fall early, then made a late run only to come up short, 50-45, to Edmond Deer Creek in the elimination game of the Area 2 Tournament.
The Millerettes, 9-10, saw their season come to an end with their second loss to the Lady Antlers in the third meeting between the teams. All three had been close with nine points separating the teams in one of the win. YHS had won the last meeting between the teams 55-49.
YHS, who hit only four field goals in the opening half, saw Deer Creek run out to a 40-21 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter. That’s when the Millerettes started to make their comeback bid.
“The moment was big and we were a little tight offensively and we couldn’t break free in the first three quarters,” YHS head coach Roy Wyckoff said. “The girls were playing hard, we just weren’t getting any flow to our offense. Then we got into such a big hole.
“But, we kept fighting back, that’s who we are,” he added. “It was crushing because I wanted one more with them.
“We did come out and had some nerves, this was the first time these girls had been in this position. And, Deer Creek really defending us. They defended well and that made it hard on us. We wanted it really bad and we pressed. But, we kept fighting and that was what made this group so much fun this year.”
A trey from Maddie Cooper 30 seconds into the fourth quarter gave Deer Creek their biggest lead of the night, 40-21.
The Millerettes came back with field goals from MJ Case and Caid Jefferson to cut the lead to 40-24. Jefferson and Case added shots that chipped the lead down to 42-30 with with 5:02 remaining.
Case hit a pair of free throws and a bucket from Gabby Tilley cut the lead to 10, 44-34, with 3:50 remaining. Case added a trey that cut the lead down to eight, 48-40 and two
Tilley free throws brought the Millerettes within six, 48-42, with 23 seconds remaining.
A pair of Jenna Marshall free throws pushed the lead to 49-42 and a trey from Sydney Brown brought the Millerettes back to within four, 49-45, with nine seconds remaining. YHS did come up with a steal, but turned the ball over and Angel Scott sealed the win for the Lady Antlers with a free throw with 5.83 seconds remaining.
The game was called a little tighter than recent YHS games. There were 40 fouls called in the contest. At one time in the first quarter, there were actually more fouls called than combined points scored.
“We may have benefitted from how the game was called, we just didn’t take advantage of our free throws early,” Wyckoff said. “Usually for us, we need the game to be flowing and a little chaotic and not a lot of whistles. There were a lot of stoppages, but they were calling it the same on both ends.
“We just needed to have done a little better job of adjusting to it,” he said. “But, they called it the same for both teams so there really wasn’t a problem except we didn’t adjust to it as well.”
Free throw shooting was part of the cold start for the Millerettes. YHS hit only six of 12 shots at the line and shot under 25 percent from the field in that opening half.
Deer Creek also struggled shooting from the field early, but hit all eight of their free throws and had six field goals that led to a 23-14 halftime lead.
Deer Creek had led 6-2 early, then used a trey from Scott to push the lead to 14-6. The Millerettes did rally back to make it am 18-12 game, but Scott hit a pair of free throws and a trey that ran the lead to 23-14 at the half.
A 10-0 run to start the second half opened a 33-14 Deer Creek lead. YHS had only seven points in the quarter and trailed 37-21.
Case led the YHS scoring with 16, Tilley had 14 and Jefferson, Sydney Miller and Brown had four. Scott had 21 for the Lady Antlers.
“We didn’t handle the moment early on like we should have,” Wyckoff said. “I am disappointed for the players not at them. I wish we could have figure out a way to manufacture a couple more buckets during that run and been down 12 or 14 instead of 19. That would have made a lot of difference late.”