One night after giving the larger-class Dewey Bulldoggers all they could handle, the Pawhuska Huskies made another strong road showing Saturday versus Class 4A’s No. 15th-ranked Cleveland Tigers.
The Tigers held off the Class 2A Huskies, 60-50, improving to 9-2 while knocking PHS below the .500 mark (5-6). Cleveland had beaten Pawhuska by 17 points, 70-53, in the Nov. 29 season opener at Oren Terrill Fieldhouse.
Pawhuska started the week by defeating a different Tigers team Tuesday. After wiping away some holiday rust, the Huskies notched their fifth win in six games with a 44-21 home triumph over Newkirk. Leading the way for PHS were seniors William Merrell, with 16 points, and Ben Gray (12 rebounds).
Newkirk held a 12-8 edge at the end of the first quarter, but the fast-breaking Huskies seized the lead midway through the second. Pawhuska outscored the Tigers, 12-1, in the period and took a seven-point advantage (20-13) into halftime. The onslaught continued following the break.
Friday night at Dewey, Merrell exploded for 25 points — including 11 in the first period, when Pawhuska built a 22-14 lead. The Doggers moved ahead at halftime, 36-35, but the visitors regained a three-point edge, 47-44, before the start of the final quarter.
The game was tied seven times — a 2, 24, 37, 39, 41, 47 and 49. A Nathan Richardson layin (following a steal by Gray) put PHS in front for the last time, 49-47, with five minutes remaining. The Bulldoggers overcame the gutsy effort of the Huskies, 65-54, to claim their fifth victory of the season.
Pawhuska was saddled with foul problems from the first quarter onward, yet managed to stay in contention until the final 3 1/2 minutes. A technical foul against the Huskies enabled the Doggers to increase their lead from three to six, then eight and 10.
“We were already short a couple of our guys, so all those fouls were a problem,” said Jake Christenson, the Huskies’ first-year coach. “”That one ended any chance we might have had of pulling out the win.”
In addition to Merrell’s game-high 25, Richardson scored nine and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for the Huskies, while Gray and freshman Easton Kirk added six apiece. Tristen Tucker also helped Pawhuskaa’s cause. The senior cross country star had three points, grabbed three rebounds and made three steals.
“We had to put a lot of young and inexperienced players out there,” Christenson added. “All in all, they did a pretty darn good job.”
Dewey connected on 21 of 40 shots from the field, including nine of 17 at three-point range. The Doggers made 15 of 22 free-throw tries. The Huskies hit 21 field goals in 60 attempts, landed six of 18 three-pointers and were six-for-13 at the line. Pawhuska finished with a big edge in rebounds, 33 to 18.
Pawhuska travels to Barnsdall to face the Panthers on Friday.
Pawhuska’s opening-round opponent at next week’s Dewey Basketball Tournament will be the host Bulldoggers. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m., following the 7:30 contest between the Lady Huskies and Lady Doggers.