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March 3, 2014

Roff Tigers leap past Stuart in Class A Area tournament

DURANT —    One of the things that has made the 15th-ranked Roff Tigers so darn hard to defend this season is their big arsenal of weapons. You never know which Tigers is going to have a good game.

   During the first two games of the Class A Area Tournament in Durant, Zach Lewis has taken his turn.

   A day after Lewis scored 19 points to help Roff defeat Arkoma 62-55, the talented junior scored a team-high 18 points to help the Tigers knock off No. 10 Stuart 58-50 Friday afternoon inside Southeastern’s Bloomer Sullivan Arena.

   Roff (22-7) battled No. 11 Kiowa Saturday night with a berth in this week’s Class A State Tournament on the line. Stuart saw its season end at 19-6.

    Lewis came up big with the game on the line. After the Tigers every bit of an eight-point, second-half lead turn into a 46-46 tie, Lewis scored three straight Roff baskets in a pivotal 8-0 run that put the Hornets away.

   The first basket came on a putback of his own miss at the 3:39 mark that broke the tie. On Roff’s next possession, Lewis hit a nifty pull-up jumper to put the Tigers on top 50-46.

   Almost a minute later, Lewis wormed his way inside for a chip shot that made it 52-46 with 2:18 left. Mike Anderson then sank two of four free throws he would make during the final minute to give Roff an eight-point bulge with 57.7 seconds left to help seal the outcome.

   “(Zach’s) come a long way. He’s come probably farther than anybody I’ve got as far as being able to take the ball to the rim and adding to his game,” said Roff head coach Bo Thomason. “He hasn’t shot the ball as well as he did last year, but he’s been able to get past that and go attack people, which helps us a lot.”

   Lewis hit 7-of-14 field goals on this night, and his impressive stats also included four (of seven) free throws, nine rebounds and a pair of steals.

   Stuart star sophomore Kaleb Wilson gave the Hornets an eight-point lead with a 3-pointer to open the second quarter that found Roff in a 18-10 hole.

   Wilson’s floater after a drive to the basket gave Stuart a 25-20 lead at the 3:27 mark of the second period, but Roff would end the first half on a 13-5 surge to take a 33-30 lead at the intermission.

   That Roff run included a 3-pointer from Hunter Larsh from 23 feet away, a conventional three-point play by Dalton Madden and two more Lewis driving layups to end the streak.

   After Stuart climbed within 38-36 on Dillon Lawrence’s conventional three-point play at the 4:57 mark of the third period, Roff responded with another 3-point bomb by Larsh and Madden’s second old-fashioned three-point play that gave the Tigers a 44-36 edge.

   The Hornets got within 46-41 heading into the fourth period.

   Wilson would score 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first half but would miss nine of his final 10 field goal attempts, thanks in part to a stingy second-half Roff defense let by Anderson.

   “One of our keys was obviously stopping him and blocking out. Our two biggest keys, we didn’t do any of in the first half,” Thomason said. “These kids have changed. The last couple of years, we might not have come back and fought like that. They’re starting to become fighters.”

   Larsh nailed four 3-pointers for his 12 points, while Madden also hit double figures with 10. Cade Carpenter followed with nine points in the balanced Roff attack.

   Thomason said he knew his club would have its hands full with the Hornets.

   “They’ve got some athletes and some shooters and one of the best point guards in the state,” he said. “They’re tough. Just trying to keep that kid (Wilson) in front is a chore itself. Then you add four shooters with him, and it makes it tough.”

   Lawrence scored 14 for Stuart while Sam Mitchell hit a trio of 3-pointers and added 13 for the Hornets.

   The Tigers earned the shot at punching their ticket to the Class A State Tournament and are exactly where they hoped to be on the first day of March.

   “Can’t ask for more than that. When we started the playoffs, we just wanted a shot,” Thomason said. “This year, I felt like these kids believed. The biggest thing that has changed is just the idea that we’re good — that we have a chance to be successful and when we walk on the floor, we should win. That’s been a big difference this year than in the past.”

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