BARNSDALL - Barnsdall’s Michael Marin scored what would turn out to be the winning basket with six seconds left, putting the home team ahead 60-59. After a timeout, the Pawhuska Huskies came roaring down the court but a call went against them in front of the Barnsdall goal and the contest was decided.
Barnsdall players, coaches and fans celebrated. It was senior night, and it had been a special recognition night for Joe Gilbert, head coach of the Lady Panthers. The Lady Huskies had overpowered the Lady Panthers, 51-32, but the Barnsdall boys had fought a scrappy battle against a Pawhuska team with a lot of athletes.
Barnsdall took an early 4-0 lead, but Pawhuska came back to lead by four, 15-11, at the end of the first quarter. A three-pointer right before the half gave the Huskies the halftime lead at 31-28. At the end of three periods, the margin was the same — 47-44 for Pawhuska.
Second-half scoring opportunities also seemed to trickle away from the Panthers. Something like a half-dozen shots that looked like sure baskets rolled off the rim. Barnsdall’s coaches looked snakebit but their players kept on coming.
With 6:16 left, Pawhuska’s Kevin Davis scored a three to put the Huskies up 51-44. The margin reached seven points on at least two other occasions — with 5:06 to go, and with just under four minutes left on the clock.
Barnsdall chipped away at that lead, however, and with about 1:46 to go, Michael Marin stole the ball and put it in for a score that gave the Panthers a 56-55 lead. From there, the contest see-sawed to its conclusion.
For a Barnsdall team that improved its record to 11-10, the game was about more than one thing. It was about homecourt pride, but it was also about paying back a rival for a lopsided defeat. Just before the Christmas holidays, the Huskies beat the Panthers 71-35 in a game at Pawhuska. In that game, the Huskies pulled away in the second half. Last Friday, there was no pulling away. With a hungry home crowd urging them on, the Panthers kept coming, even when their shots were rolling off the rim.
In considerable measure, there was also the matter of senior guard Michael Marin taking the fate of his team into his own hands and forcing the issue.
The Huskies remained game until the end. Right after Marin had give the Panthers a 56-55 lead, Pawhuska senior Easton Kirk stormed down the court, willed his way inside and put up a score to retake the lead.
But when the clock ran out, it was Barnsdall’s moment to let go of frustration and exult in triumph over a cross-county rival. The Huskies fell to 15-7 for the season, having lost twice last week, to Woodland and Barnsdall.
The Panthers finished their regular season with a record of 12-10, defeating Caney Valley on Monday. The Pawhuska boys were scheduled to finish their regular season Tuesday night, at home against Pawnee.
In the girls game Friday, Pawhuska got out to a 16-6 lead at the end of the first quarter that became a 28-17 lead at the half and a 41-24 lead at he end of three quarters. The Lady Panthers kept trying to cut the Pawhuska lead, with Mickey Easley in particular taking the fight to the Lady Huskies, but there would be no miracle for Joe Gilbert’s girls.
The Lady Huskies raised their record to 17-5, with one game left.
For Gilbert, himself, the night was one on which the local community gave honor to him for all his coaching efforts at Barnsdall Schools since 1954. Scores of former players, many of them now gray-haired themselves, joined him at mid-court before the ball games to thank him.
“I shouldn’t be getting this award,” Gilbert said, deflecting the attention to his players and former players. “You all should.”