No one saw this one coming.
After having sliced its way to a 21-1 regular season record — while leaving almost all its opponents so far behind that they had to apply for a new zip code — Oklahoma Union High School’s boys basketball team appeared to have an easy road this past weekend in the Class 2A district tournament at the OUHS Cougars gym.
But, the proud — and senior-laden — Barnsdall Panthers (13-10) nearly dealt the Cougars — ranked No. 1 (Class 2A) in the state —a stunning blow.
However, the Cougars held on to win, 67-65, to win the district crown and advance in the winner’s bracket to this week’s regionals.
A three-pointer, with time expiring, by Barnsdall’s Heath Moles went halfway down the cylinder before it popped out to preserve the Cougars’ hard-fought victory.
On Friday, Barnsdall High School’s girls basketball team ended its season on a battling note.
Paced by Mickey Easley’s prolific outburst of 23 points and eight rebounds, the Lady Panthers confounded Mounds most of the way during a Class 2A district playoff showdown.
The Mounds Golden Eagles eked out the win, 56-47, to end Barnsdall’s season.
Following are summaries of Barnsdall’s district games for both the girls and the guys:
Barnsdall — one of the hottest Class 2A boys teams — from late January through late February — in the state hadn’t yet met Oklahoma Union prior to Saturday’s district final.
The Panthers — which posted an 8-1 record in their last nine regular season games — made the most of what might be their only opportunity to play the Cougars.
“On any given night, we know we’re capable of beating good teams,” Barnsdall head coach Wade Corder said. “I told the guys before the season that we’re going to be the team nobody wants to play in February.”
OUHS certainly found itself in a serious catfight against the Osage County upstarts.
Jace Hollingshed dialed in 22 points to spearhead the OUHS win. He gave the Cougars the boost they needed by scoring 15 points in the third quarter to help keep Barnsdall — which had led at halftime, 40-32 — from gathering too much momentum.
Kohlsyn Gibson added 17 points for OUHS, followed by Jace Gilmore with eight, Kade Hollingshed with seven, Dillon Ellis with seven and Henry Auer with three.
For Barnsdall, Heath Moles sank 28 points, followed by Michael Marin and Josh Weber with 15 and 11, respectively.
Keegan Marin added seven points and Braden Kelley contributed four.
Corder’s game plan was simple.
In fact, the Barnsdall locker room contained an aura of rank disappointment afterward, despite the players’ magnificent effort.
In Friday’s district semifinal, Barnsdall leveled Mounds, 66-50.
Moles pumped in 25 points, followed by Kelley with 19, Michael Marin with 12, Keegan Marin with six and Weber with four.
The Panthers knocked down 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win and advance to Saturday’s final against Oklahoma Union.
Barnsdall put up a feisty fight against Mounds.
“We were in a position late in the game to pull it out and win,” said Barnsdall Lady Panthers head coach Joe Gilbert. “It was tied up in the fourth quarter. At one time in the second quarter we had led by 10 points. But, then they came back in the end, and in the last three or four minutes beat us.”
The Lady Panthers dialed in with a heroic effort considering they finished 5-16 in the regular season and had lost four straight coming into the playoffs.
In addition, Gilbert had seen his number of healthy bodies whittled down from 13 to eight during the campaign.
Even so, Barnsdall countered adversity with tenacity in nearly knocking off Mounds (8-16).
Easley’s explosive offensive contribution energized the Lady Panthers. Rounding out their scorers were freshman McKenna Bryant, 10 points; Jaydon Mackey, five; Kaylee Rasberry, four; Kyndal LeFlore, two; Lexi Patrick, two; and Haley Tarwater, one.
Clay scored 11 to lead Mounds, followed by Weeks and Crane with 10 apiece.
Barnsdall’s leading rebounders included Easley with eight, and Bryant and Rasberry with seven apiece.
Easley and Mackey also recorded four steals.
As a team, Barnsdall flushed 38 percent of its three-pointers and 26 percent from deuceland, both better than usual.
LeFlore and Mackey were Gilbert’s lone seniors in the lineup, which means Barnsdall will welcome back plenty of experience — and hopefully a much healthier bunch — for next season.
Even so, it was with regret Gilbert saw this season ended.