It’s been a while, but the Pawhuska Huskies will be playing basketball in March, thanks to what their coach called a “massive” upset win last Saturday against Pawnee, 61-59, at Stroud.
Pawhuska improved to 19-8 and clinched a regional championship, while Pawnee fell to 24-2. Pawnee’s only other loss was an overtime game against Perry.
The Huskies came into the game already having qualified for the Area Tournament by beating Preston, 77-29, on Thursday night.
Pawnee had beaten Pawhuska twice this season, convincingly each time. The Black Bears won 59-45 on their home floor on Feb. 4, and spoiled Pawhuska’s Senior Night on Feb. 18, beating the Huskies 72-56.
But the Huskies wanted this one so bad. Christenson said he worked with the team to understand how they would have to adjust to have a chance to win.
“We started working on, ‘How do we stop these guys?’” Christenson said, explaining the Huskies had seen the Black Bears twice and knew their strengths.
Pawnee is good at running the floor and shooting the three-pointer. Pawhuska normally tries to play a fast game, but the Huskies on Saturday avoided getting in a run-and-gun game with the Black Bears, Christenson said.
“Really, our kids did a lot better job of rebounding, and defensively. It really meant a lot to them,” Christenson said. “We took care of the ball, tried not to get into a shooting contest with them.”
Pawhuska is next slated to match up Friday with Hooker in a game at 8 p.m. at the Stride Bank Event Center in Enid. Hooker is 24-2, and defeated No. 1 Oklahoma Union last Saturday.
Christenson said Easton Kirk and Evan Frye had big scoring nights, Matt Miles made a lot of free throws and Isaiah Walker had a good game against Pawnee.
“It’s a big deal,” he said of the win over Pawnee. Christenson said Monday that he had been receiving telephone calls from a lot of coaches who were excited to see Pawhuska making a postseason run.
“For us to be back in that position, it makes people excited. They start thinking about the glory days (of Pawhuska basketball),” Christenson said. One more win would be enough to put the Huskies in the state tournament for the first time since 2002, he said.
At an Osage County Board of County Commissioners meeting Monday, District 1 Commissioner Randall Jones took a moment to recognize the Huskies for their regional title. District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney said he was glad to hear Pawhuska had beaten Pawnee.
“Good. I like it when Pawnee gets beat,” said McKinney, who is from Fairfax. He said he thought it had been a long time since Woodland had beaten Pawnee.
Pawhuska’s win on Saturday followed a 77-29 thrashing they gave Preston on Thursday. In that game, Easton Kirk had 18 points, Tell Richardson had 15, Evan Frye had 12, Mason Gilkey 11, and Matt Miles 9. Christenson said it had been 15 years since Pawhuska last made the Area Tournament.