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The Ada News
In a game where both teams were in need of a victory, the Vanoss Wolves broke open a tight game with a big third quarter and knocked off host Allen 61-49 Friday night.
The Wolves snapped a three-game losing streak to inch closer to .500 at 8-9, while Allen has now lost three straight to fall to 10-7 and 3-5 during the new year.
Allen girls coach Jeremy Strong had been lamenting about his team's offensive struggles before last night's matchup with Vanoss. He certainly had nothing to complain about after watching the Lady Mustangs sink 12 3-pointers and shoot lights out in a 74-39 victory over the Lady Wolves.
It was easily the season-high point total for Allen, which improved to 7-10 on the year. A shell-shocked Vanoss team dropped to 5-13 and has now lost six of its past seven outings.
Vanoss 61, Allen 49
The first half was tight throughout as Vanoss was nursing a 32-31 lead at the intermission. But the Wolves opened the third quarter with a huge 13-4 surge and grabbed its first double-digit lead of the night when sophomore post player Dayton Philips cashed on an old-fashioned 3-point play after his putback basket and free throw at the 3:23 mark of the third quarter.
Four different Vanoss players scored during that tide-turning salvo, including 3-point baskets from Chris Drumgo and Blake Cooper.
Those two put an exclamation point on an 18-6 third-quarter advantage when Cooper hit a short jumper and got an offensive rebound and later fed Drumgo at the top of the key for a 3-pointer as time was running out. Vanoss carried a 50-37 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
The Mustangs hit just 2-of-12 field goals during a cool third quarter after going 12-of-25 from the floor in the first half.
"Our guys really turned up our defensive intensity in the second half, and that allowed us to win that game," said new Vanoss head coach Jon Hurt. "These guys have been playing really hard and working every day in practice, and that's why we're turning into a better basketball team."
Drumgo, who scored a game-high 19 points, hit two point-blank shots to start the fourth quarter. His steal led to a layup by Colton Rankin that extended the VHS advantage to 56-37. A free throw by Jake Grimm gave the Wolves their largest lead of the game at 61-41 with just 1:56 left, but Allen reserves outscored Vanoss 8-0 the rest of the way.
"I couldn't be more happy with these guys," Hurt said. "I know a lot of people didn't expect much out of these guys and now every time we go play somebody, they know we're going to compete and play hard."
Allen led by five early (13-8) and by four after a bucket inside by Cole Young midway through the second period that made it 29-25. But the Wolves got 3-pointers from Rankin and Grimm in a 7-2 run just before halftime to help Vanoss grab a slim 32-31 lead.
Vanoss would finish 10-of-24 from beyond the arc. The Mustangs hit four of their first seven 3-point tries — Conner Johnson hit his first three attemps from long range — but didn't hit a triple in the second half. In fact, Johnson scored 13 first-half points but missed his only shot attempt after the break. Jarrett Holland added 11 points for the Mustangs.
Four of the five Vanoss starters reached double digits. Rankin followed Drumgo with 13 points, while Grimm added 11 and Cooper finished with 10. Drumgo had nine rebounds for the visitors, while Rankin added eight to help the Wolves win the battle of the boards 36-26.
Allen 74, Vanoss 39
Vanoss coach Kim Lewis and her club arrived late due to problems with their bus. After the game got started, she probably wished her team had missed the bus.
When Kaylen Donelson hit a free-throw line jumper with just over four minutes to go in the first quarter, Vanoss trailed just 8-5.
What happened next was borderline uncanny. Allen would reel off 30 unanswered points — 15 by Beyla Skelton (who admitted after the game that she felt like she was "on fire" — to turn what was a three-point game into a 38-7 rout. Vanoss did score a bucket during that amazing run that was technically a 30-2 surge, but it wasn't a member of the Lady Wolves' roster who hit the shot.
VHS senior Katie Pershbacher missed the second of two free throws at the 5:04 mark of the second period, and Allen senior Cheyenne Nickell was there for the rebound. But Nickell immediately put a shot up and hit a layup in the Vanoss goal, scoring two points for the Lady Wolves. Those two points were later unofficially credited to Pershbacher.
At that point, Vanoss needed all the help it could get against the sizzling Allen squad, which used a 28-12 second-quarter advantage to build a 46-17 halftime lead.
"That's what has been so frustrating. I knew we could score better than we have been showing. We do it all the time in practice," Strong said.
Allen would lead by as many as 37 (63-26) in the third quarter.
Skelton scored a season-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and also had six rebounds and six steals to lead the Allen attack. Freshman Allison Sells added 11 points off the bench, including a trio of 3-pointers. The Lady Mustangs finished 12-of-22 from long range.
Vanoss hit eight 3-pointers, including three by Katy Caton, who led her team with 13 points. Donelson added 12 points and six boards for the Lady Wolves, who were also hindered by 28 turnovers.
Both Allen teams will compete in the Tri-County Tournament at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee this week. The Allen girls meet Wellston on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round matchup, with the boys taking on Earlsboro at 8:45 p.m.
Vanoss travels to rival Stratford on Friday.