PIEDMONT – Collett Field House has seen some close games in the rival series between El Reno High School’s boys basketball team and the Wildcats – and last week’s season opener delivered yet another one.
A game of top-10 ranked teams, one which El Reno had well in hand for the first three periods, turned into a nail-biter after the Indians committed 11 turnovers in the fourth period and were outscored 24-17 by the Wildcats.
However, with a double-digit lead whittled down to four points, Dez Perkins hit two free throws within the final 10 seconds and Eli Hollis grabbed a game-sealing defensive rebound as the Indians prevailed 73-67.
El Reno, ranked No.6 in the first Class 5A poll, improved to 2-0 in season-opening games under head coach Kale Simon and improved to 7-4 in the last 11 games with the Wildcats dating back to 2013.
The win also avenged last year’s 63-61 loss to the Wildcats at Collett.
“We had them at first and then we started slacking off and let them get back into the game. We had to pick up a little bit to go ahead and finish off the game and get the win.
“Piedmont has always been one of the big rivalries and this has been a tough place for us. We had to do what we needed to do to get out of here with the win,” said senior guard Dyson Plumley.
Piedmont made nine baskets in the fourth period, including four 3-pointers, to whittle down a deficit which stood at 20 points after three quarters, 56-36.
The Wildcats had a 10-0 run in the last two minutes before El Reno point guard Derek Havern made a free throw with 27 seconds left to make it a six-point game.
Piedmont added two free throws on a late whistle on a Hollis blocked shot, his third of the game, but could close no further than the four points.
Despite the turnovers, El Reno still shot 6-of-12 from the floor in the fourth period and made 4-of-6 free-throw attempts.
“We’re going to have to work on our press coverage a lot more, but we had to press through it and get the win,” said Plumley.
During the first three periods, El Reno showed solid defense as Piedmont was limited to 36 one-shot possessions. Out of those came only 11 baskets for the Wildcats in addition to nine turnovers and two blocked shots.
“We have a good defensive team and I knew we were going to have to come out and play good defense because it would be the main key. The first quarters we did it, but the fourth quarter I can’t really say much for that,” said Plumley.
El Reno led 19-5 after one period off 7-of-16 shooting which included two 3-pointers each from Havern and Plumley and one from Yobany Gonzalez. The Indians were up 40-21 at the break before outscoring Piedmont 16-15 in the third to take the 20-point lead.
The Indians closed the game hitting 50 percent from the floor, 29-of-58, which included an 11-of-24 effort from the 3-point arc. Plumley led all scorers with 30 points off 13-of-26 shooting, while completing a double-double with 10 rebounds.
Perkins closed the game with 12 points and five boards, followed by nine points and two rebounds from Dorian Plumley. Hollis was close behind with a line of nine rebounds, eight points, three blocks and a steal.
Havern spun out sevens in points, rebounds and assists. Gonzalez closed with five points and Blaine Fasthorse with two points.