DOUGLASS — Two state-ranked squads from District 22-2A that look like thoroughbreds when they get their offensive and defensive games in high gear met Friday night in Indian Gymnasium. There was a lot on the line and an emotional partisan crowd behind them, as No. 21-ranked Douglass hosted No. 20-ranked Cushing in the DHS Homecoming.
The game was up-and-down for nearly 32 minutes, as both teams took turns taking shots at the other. Cushing scored 13 fast break points in the first half and 24 points in the paint as the Bearkats grabbed a 35-25 halftime lead. But foul trouble and a ramped up Douglass ‘D’ in the final two periods was the difference as three Cushing players fouled out and the Indians cashed in on 14-of-20 (70%) from the line in the second half for a 72-61 victory.
The win kept Douglass (16-1) 1.5 games behind No. 13-ranked Garrison in the 22-2A standings, after the Bulldogs (5-0) stayed in the top spot with a 67-37 win over Woden at home Friday. Cushing dropped back into a three-way tie with Woden and New Summerfield at 2-2.
The Bearkats have had a tough one-two punch this year in Deuce Garrett and Asa Dawson. The seniors have been averaging 20-plus points a contest. They combined for 25 points in the first half Friday night, but Dawson got into foul trouble before eventually fouling out with 6:25 remaining. The Indians clamped down on Garrett, holding him to six second-half points and only two in the fourth quarter, as he finished with 16. Dawson managed just two points in the second half and none in the fourth, as he led the ‘Kats with a 17-point effort.
“We took Deuce away,” said Douglass head coach Vance Dallas after the contest. “That’s hard, at the small school level, if you take away the other team’s best player because that’s who they’re used to going to.
“We haven’t denied the ball like that in over a year and hadn’t worked on it or even talked about it until halftime of the game tonight.
“But my players are so coachable and they do whatever I need them to do on the fly. They picked it up and got the job done.
“Chayson Brown (senior) did a great job on him, and Drew Bobo (sophomore) and the other guys helped out too. This team played with so much energy and passion tonight and they all had big games. It was a big game for (Cushing) and a big game for us.”
Dallas praised the play of senior guard Cory Melton too, along with Brown.
“Those four-year starters like Cory and Chayson make my job so easy,” Dallas said. “They lead this team and make the plays when we need them and I’m so proud of them and the entire team for the way they played tonight.
“This district is a battle every night and you really can’t afford to lose any games. But you need to win the ones at home and you need to win the ones you can win. (Cushing) is good and Woden is going to be good Tuesday when we play (in Woden). And Garrison is really good.”
Douglass won the game despite hitting just 37.7% (23-of-61) from the field and only 28.6% (6-of-21) from three-point territory. Melton led the way with 20 points. He connected on 9-of-11 from the free throw line for nearly half of his points.
Sophomore Jaidyn Davis was 6-of-9 with his two-point field goals, adding 16 points to the Indian total. Brown threw in 16 points, connecting on 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
Other scorers for Douglass were sophomore Drew Bobo with 12 points, sophomore Jace Bobo adding five and Gentry Thornton and J.T. Davis scoring two each.
“We didn’t play as many players as we normally do, but the other guys are there if we need them,” Dallas explained. “I think depth was on our side tonight because Cushing got into foul trouble. They slowed the game down in the third quarter and we kept up the pressure and took advantage of the situtation.
In addition to the 33-point effort by their senior duo, Will Hobgood added 13 points for Cushing before fouling out halfway through the final period. Joseph Humphries dropped in seven points, Keyshawn Rollison scored five and Wright added three.
Cushing led 13-10 at the end of the opening period, as the ‘Kats scored 12 of those points in the paint. The Bearkats added 22 points in the second quarter, while holding the Indians to 15 to grab the 35-25 lead at the break.
After surviving despite 10 first-half turnovers, Cushing suffered 19 in the second half, including 10 in the final period, when the Bearkats were outscored 27-13. The 29 turnovers were 12 more than Douglass.
In the fourth quarter, the Indians outscored Cushing 10-4 in the paint, while hitting an impressive 91.7 % (11-of-12) from the charity stripe, which allowed Douglass to go on a 16-6 over the first 3:45 of the final period to go from a three-point deficit (48-45) to a seven-point lead (61-54). The Indians secured the contest at the free throw stripe.