The Chickasha High School basketball team has been on a roll in summer games so far, only having lost one time. On Tuesday, the Chicks earned a comeback win over Lawton MacArthur at the Anadarko Gold Ball Team Camp at Riverside Indian School.
Chickasha won the game 47-45 after being down as many as 15 points in the first half of the game. Lawton MacArthur came out early in the game as the more aggressive team making a statement about the effort they were going to make by slapping the floor on the first defensive possession.
"That was a big win for us over Lawton Mac's varsity," head coach Bryan Merritt said. "They were only missing one kid.
"They came out slapping the floor and all that, but that's okay."
Chickasha was missing three key players, with Dakota Goombi sitting out after getting dehydrated on Monday, Montana Moon out after having to get stitches from an injury earlier Tuesday, and Deshawn Young also unavailable.
In the first half, that floor-slapping wasn't just for show. MacArthur locked up the Fightin' Chicks defensively and burst out to a 10-0 lead.
In the hole early, head coach Bryan Merritt challenged his team to play hard on every possession to match the intensity of MacArthur, and Chickasha went to the half with a manageable 27-19 deficit.
After a first half during which Chickasha was unable to get to the basket or score effectively in the paint, Merritt gave his team a clear focus in the second half: Get the ball into the post, every possession.
That meant Fightin' Chicks center Joey Sylvester was the featured player on offense. For most of the second half, the first pass of each possession was into Sylvester on the block, where he had a lot of success either getting the basket, getting fouled, or making the right pass to cutting teammates.
However, even while Chickasha had solved its offensive problems, the team still wasn't getting stops on the defensive end, and the lead hovered around seven or eight points for MacArthur for much of the second half.
The Chicks finally tightened up the defense, and were able to pull within three points with just under three minutes remaining.
The first lead of the game for Chickasha came with 1:15 left to play, after Sylvester hit two free throws to make the game 45-44.
Lawton MacArthur missed a jump shot on the next possession, but got the offensive rebound and was fouled. Mac hit one of the free throws to tie the game at 45.
Fittingly, Sylvester hit the game-winning shot down low, and Lawton MacArthur missed the first free throw of a 1-and-1, ending the game.
"Joey made the plays at the end," Merritt said. "We really wanted to get him the ball, because that's where we had the advantage."
Younger players had to step in and contribute for the short-handed Chicks, and they played their part in the victory.
"I'm really happy with our other guys today, like Levi [Kell] and T.J. [Filer] who aren't used to starting," Merritt said.
Chickasha won all three of its games on Monday, beating Newcastle, Washington and Lexington. The Chicks also beat Bethany early on Tuesday.
Chickasha has three games today at the Anadarko camp, playing Lindsay at 11:30 a.m. and Blanchard at 3:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Street Gym, then finishing the day with a game against Okemah at 5:30 p.m. at Riverside Indian School.