Wolves turn back Longhorns, 50-45

Richard R. Barron/The Ada NewsStonewall’s Cayman Watkins battles Nathan Stone of Vanoss for control of the ball during a Pontotoc Conference matchup last Friday at East Central University. The Wolves edged the Longhorns 50-45.

The Vanoss Wolves closed the game with a 13-8 run in the final 2:55 and secured a 50-45 win over the Stonewall Longhorns Friday night at East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.

Vanoss, 3-0 on the year, is playing its home games at ECU because of renovations to its fieldhouse.

Sando Hill tossed in a game-high 16 points, grabbed five rebounds, recorded six steals and handed out five assists and bench player Tucker Bucher knocked down a pair of critical 3-pointers in helping the Wolves pull away in the waning minutes.

“The difference is that we just made more shots in the fourth quarter,” said Vanoss Head Coach Jon Hurt. “When (Stonewall’s) Cayman (Watkins) fouled out that helped our cause. Bucher came off the bench and hit some big shots.”

Kyler Byrd added eight points, six boards and four steals to the Wolves’ attack while Riley Cooper and Bucher each followed with eight. Cooper also collected five boards.

All of the offensive damage inflicted by Vanoss came from Hill and Bucher as the pair combined for the final 13 points.

With the score deadlocked at 37, Hill pushed the Wolves’ advantage to 39-37 off a pair of free shots with 2:55 to go. Twenty seconds later, Bucher knocked down a trey off a Nathan Stone assist to make it 42-37.

After Stonewall’s Bryce Holland drilled a 3-pointer, Bucher again drained a trey to make it 45-40 with 2:02 remaining.

With the Longhorns up 46-42, Hill stole a pass and went three-quarters of the floor for a layup with 19 seconds left to make it 48-42. Bucher then connected on two free throws with eight seconds left to seal it.

Holland’s trey just seconds before the buzzer cut the deficit to five.

Watkins led Stonewall with 11 points before fouling out and Holland ended up with 10. The Longhorns’ Heath Hook pulled down a game-high seven rebounds to go with his eight points in a losing effort before also fouling out.

Vanoss shot 42 percent from the floor and less than 50 percent (8-of-17) from the free-throw stripe, while Stonewall converted only 32 percent from the field and 57 percent (8-of-14) from the charity line.

The Wolves host Tupelo tonight at ECU’s Kerr Center, while the Longhorns are at home with Stuart.

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Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.