Free throws made the difference Tuesday as the Pawhuska High School Huskies were denied a basketball victory by the late-charging Nowata Ironmen.
Nowata slipped past the Huskies, 57-50, at Oren Terrill Field House.
“They made seven more (free throws) than we did, and that’s what they beat us by — seven,” PHS head coach Jake Christenson said. “We also missed seven free throws.”
Pawhuska received 10 fewer opportunities at the line than the Ironmen, who made 13 of 23 charity shots compared to six of 13 for the Huskies. The foul calls that gave Nowata its free-throw opportunities created multiple problems for PHS. Starters Nathan Richardson and Mattheu Rector both fouled out and two more were a whistle away from disqualification.
Leading the way for the Huskies was senior Ben Gray, who scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots. Freshman Easton Kirk helped keep PHS in contention until the final minute. He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block.
Kirk knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner with 24 seconds left in the second quarter and pulled the Huskies even (25-25) at halftime.With 3:45 remaining, Kirk’s steal and layin tied the score for a 12th (and the final) time, at 48-48.
PHS senior Tyler Wilson’s three-point shot near the end of the third frame brought about the 10th tie, at 37-all. It was the only other three-pointer to be made in the game, although a lot of them were attempted. The Huskies maade the two, but tried 11 others, and the Ironmen were zero for eight from above the arc.
With its third loss in a row, Class 2A Pawhuska dropped to 5-7. Nowata, the state’s No. 15-ranked 3A team, snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 7-3.
Dalton Carter scored a game-high 20 for the Ironmen and Zen Callahan added 18, which including nine in the fourth quarter. Nowata scored 11 of the game’s last 15 points.
Will Merrell and Wilson chipped in eight points apiece for PHS. Merrells also grabbed six rebounds, while Wilson made three steals and blocked two shots.
PHS outrebounded the visitors, 28 to 23. The Huskies committed 18 turnovers, three more than the Ironmen.
Nowata made 22 of its 42 shots from the field for a 52-percent success rate (which included the eight missed treys). Pawhuska connected on 21 of 46 field-goal attempts, for a 46 percent average.
Icy roads caused cancelation of PHS’s Friday games at Barnsdall. On Tuesday, the Pawhuska boys were to play the host Bulldoggers in the opening round of the Dewey Basketball Tournament. A victory would put the Huskies in a 9 p.m. Thursday contest against the winner of Monday’s Cleveland-Bishop Kelley JV game. The losers of those two first-round matchups play at 9 p.m. Friday.
The Huskies will travel to Nowata next Tuesday, Jan. 24. PHS has makeup games with Hominy scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28., with JV games to begin at 2 p.m. and varsity action starting at 4:30. New members of Pawhuska’s Basketball Hall of Fame are to be introduced during the varsity contests. The induction banquet is slated for earlier that day.