Huskies headed for Area Tournament; girls' season ends

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska Huskies basketball team is headed for 2A Area Tournament play for the second consecutive season.

The 14-4 Huskies, whose 2020-21 schedule included games that were canceled for reasons ranging from inclement weather to concerns about COVID-19, lost a hard-fought 63-59 contest to Dale, the No. 1 team in Class 2A, on Saturday night at McLain High School in Tulsa.

Dale led 29-28 at the half, and 46-45 after three quarters. There were numerous lead changes, as the teams slugged it out. Pawhuska received important 3-point shooting from seniors Holton Justus and Tell Richardson.

With the win, Dale improved to 19-4 and took the Region A championship in Area 2. Pawhuska, which won its way into the regional championship game by defeating the Colcord Hornets, 54-27, on Thursday night, will continue its season in the Area Tournament.

The game against Colcord ended with much more satisfying results for Pawhuska.

Playing on their home court, the Huskies built a 14-0 lead before Colcord scored its first basket with 2:54 left in the opening quarter. Pawhuska led 20-5 at the end of the quarter and 30-9 at halftime.

“I thought we defended exceptionally well for the majority of the game,” Coach Talby Justus said of the victory over Colcord. By the end of three quarters, the score was 43-16 for Pawhuska, and Justus began working reserves into the lineup in the closing minutes.

Nonetheless, the Colcord game was a frequently physical contest, and Pawhuska big man Jamar Goff sometimes had to deal with frustrations associated with Colcord’s attempt to contain him by double-teaming him.

The win last Thursday in the boys game helped to take the sting out of a shocking loss for the Pawhuska girls in the opener that night. The Lady Huskies lost 51-50 in overtime to Fairland after having led the Lady Owls by more than 20 points.

“It is what it is” Coach David Cash said of Thursday's defeat. The Lady Huskies entered the fourth quarter with a 40-21 lead. What followed was a nightmare fourth quarter for Pawhuska, in which shots weren’t dropping and fouls were being called against the Lady Huskies with regularity.

With 4:31 to go, almost halfway through the quarter, the score was Pawhuska 45, Fairland 35. The Lady Huskies would not score again in regulation time, and the Lady Owls tied them by the end of the quarter.

Trailing 51-50 with about six seconds left in the four-minute overtime, Pawhuska rushed the ball up the court and senior Arianna Soliano hurled the ball toward the basket from about center court, but the shot failed.

Pawhuska also lost Miya Curry, one of its starters, to an injury with a little more than three minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday. Curry went down in pain while trying to drive to the basket and had to be picked up and carried off the court. Following the game, she was on crutches.

The Pawhuska girls saw their season end on Friday with a 49-41 loss against Chouteau-Mazie, and finished with a record of 15-6.