By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Of all the area teams to play in tournaments last weekend, the only one to emerge as a champion was the Moore boys basketball team. They defeated Lawton 55-44 Saturday to win the Chickasha Classic.
“The key was defense,” MHS coach Aaron Howell said. “There is no question about it. To cause that many turnovers and be able to score off of most of them was an eye opener for this team and they know that we don’t just have to be an offensive team. We can create a lot of points by playing tough defense.”
On its way to the title, the Lions knocked off Duncan (64-44) and Altus (86-49) in the first two rounds.
“I think the first game we played lazy and too relaxed,” Howell said. “Not moving the ball much and just settling for 1 pass and tossing it up. Defensive pressure was not consistent. Against Altus we wanted to jump on them quick. They have an athletic group of guys with good size so we turned up the pace and started to run. 3rd quarter, the guys really played tough defense and we ended up scoring 36 points in that quarter if I remember right. We shot the ball excellent from three-point also. Our supporting cast had the opportunity to come in early and continue our play and strengthen our depth and team.”
While the first two games were relatively easy, Moore had a tougher time putting away the Wolverines with a title on the line. Dante Butler paced the Lions with 17 points.
“Against Lawton we started slow but had another very strong third quarter and we took a 20 point lead in the third,” Howell said. “Lawton was very quick and rebounded offensively very well. They are a very good team. They are going to give lots of teams problems.”
Dante Butler lead the Lions with 16 points, while Diontre Cutliff added 16. But Howell was impressed with his entire team.
“I think our starters played great, but I was more impressed with our bench.” Howell said. “Justin Beam, Christian Ohler, Zeke Guy, Carlton Robertson, Brevin Howell and everyone that saw a good amount of minutes. They came in with the same attitude as the starters and we didn’t have a major drop off in our play. We didn’t score as much while they were in but their defense and attention to the small things helped our team get stronger this weekend. Very proud of those guys.”
The Moore girls were also at the Chickasha tourney and claimed sixth place with a 1-2 record. They fell 42-41 to Edmond North in final game.
“We didn’t play as well over-all as we have in previous games this season,” MHS coach Rhonda Fields said. “ We were plagued by turnovers and poor free throw shooting. Our execution on offense and our defense continue to improve. We just have to continue to get close game experience.”
Senior Amanda Patterson averaged 10 points a game and was named to all-tourney team.
In other tournament action: The Southmoore boys battled through injuries to take seventh at the Bartlesville Invitation. They defeated Ardmore 71-50 in the seventh place game.
The Westmoore boys finished in fourth after losing its final two contests. That include a 66-58 loss to Tulsa Kelly in the third place game.
John Nobles bracket set: The Lions released the brackets for the annual John Nobles Basketball Tournament.
On the boys side, competitors include Flower Mound (Tx), NW Classen, Redemption Christian Academy (TX), Ponca City, Lawton High, Tahlequah and Southmoore.
For the girls, the Lady Lions are joined by the SaberCats, Ponca City, Eisenhower, Muskogee, Tahlequah, Lawton and Choctaw.
Games will be held Jan. 23-25 at Moore High.
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth firstname.lastname@example.org