Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
ANADARKO, Okla. —
Home court advantage is more than a cliché in the rivalry between the Chickasha and Anadarko boys basketball teams, with more evidence of that coming in the Chicks’ loss at Anadarko on Saturday night.
Chickasha lost 60-55 to the Warriors, splitting the season series. The Chicks beat the Warriors in overtime at home in late December.
The most telling stat of the game was the number of free throw attempts. Anadarko shot 32 free throws, while Chickasha shot only eight.
“It’s an easy game,” head coach Bryan Merritt said. “They got to the free throw line a lot, and we didn’t get there hardly any. If the other team shoots 32 free throws and you shoot eight, that’s the difference.”
Some of Anadarko’s free throw attempts came late, when Chickasha was intentionally fouling in a comeback attempt, but even without those, Anadarko had a significant advantage.
Merritt made sure to say that he didn’t blame the referees for his team’s loss, but acknowledged that there is a difference between playing in Anadarko and playing in Chickasha.
“We’ve got the advantage when we play in Chickasha, and they’ve got the advantage here,” Merritt said. “What it boils down to, is the teams are pretty much even, and if they came to Chickasha five times I like to think we would win four, and if we came over here five, we’d lose four.”
The Fightin’ Chicks knew they would have to play better than usual to get the road win, and that anything less than their best effort in a tough environment would likely come up short.
“Officials never win or lose a game,” Merritt said. “We knew what we had to do, and we knew that was going to happen, we had to play great. Good wasn’t going to be good enough. Just like when they come to Chickasha, they have to play great. They can’t just play good.”
Part of the reason Anadarko spent so much time at the free throw line is that the Warriors spent plenty of time with the ball in the lane. Chickasha struggled all game to stop Anadarko’s penetration.
“When they drove, instead of us making them pull up at six or seven feet, they got all the way to the rim,” Merritt said. “It comes down to the kids wanting to slide over and get in front of them, and either take a charge or the big man stepping up and going chest-to-chest with them and making them take the ball outside the lane.”
Chickasha had two players in double-figures. E.J. Golightly scored 23 points, and Datious Dufur scored 14 points. Joey Sylvester and Dakota Goombi scored eight points each.
With playoff brackets already set before the Anadarko game, Chickasha is playing for improvement rather than record, ranking or seeding.
“Hopefully we can get something from it and be mentally tough,” Merritt said. “We’ve had a good eight days, we won three straight.”
Chickasha will host Durant at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the CHS Activity Center. The Chicks beat the Lions 64-43 on Jan. 18 in Durant.
Tonight's game is Chickasha's first Coaches vs. Cancer game.
Chickasha High School students that wear pink will receive free admission to the game, with student ID.
During halftime of the boys game, the girls basketball team will be in the stands with collection buckets for "Miracle Minute, trying to get as many donations as possible within one minute for the American Cancer Society.
Cancer survivors will be recognized between games.