The Duncan Banner
To say that Velma-Alma’s area championship game with Glencoe Friday night was exciting, would be a complete understatement.
It was nothing short of an instant classic.
Against undefeated and No. 2 ranked Glencoe, the Comets showed the mettle of champions as they grinded out a four quarter effort, and struck down the Panthers with a 68-66 victory.
“I’m just so proud of our kids,” V-A coach Kenny Bare said. “We played a really good basketball team tonight. At the same time we showed we’re a really good basketball team. These kids effort was non-stop and we made just enough plays to win the game. I’m proud of each and every one of them.”
During the course of the game, both teams put on a masterful display of basketball, which had the near sellout crowd at Route 66 Coliseum glued to the edge of their seats.
Ironically enough, the Panthers undoing came at the free throw line, on a simple mistake.
With his team down by four points, GHS’ Ty Lazenby was fouled shooting a three-point attempt with 1.4 seconds left.
After making the first two to cut the deficit to two points, Lazenby inadvertently stepped across the line as a result of an attempted pump fake, giving the ball back to the Comets with a two-point lead.
On the ensuing in bounds play, V-A threw the ball down court as the clock ran out, sparking wild celebrations from a near packed Velma-Alma fan base.
Dallen Mercer and Jaz Gayanich both hit clutch free throws down the stretch in the fourth to help keep the Comets in the game as the seconds wore down.
Velma-Alma finished the game shooting 14-of-17 from the free throw line, with the Panthers going 7-for-8. V-A also held the edge on three-point shots, compiling a 5-for-9 performance compared to Glencoe’s 7-for-14.
“You grow up with coaches telling you to dream about this moment,” Mercer said about the fourth quarter. “We’re here for a reason and not a pushover team. Our goal was to get the lead back and we got it.”
V-A’s biggest lead of the night was three points, coming at the end of the first quarter (21-18), and at halftime (34-31).
“We knew Glencoe was 27-0 for a reason,” Bare said. “But we also knew we were in this game for a reason. We wanted to take our game to them and I think that was the difference.”
Glencoe never made things easy on the night, as the Panthers led by five points multiple times in the third quarter, resulting in a six point lead going into the fourth at 56-50.
Mercer led the Comets (24-3) with 23 points on the night, followed by Jaz Gayanich with 16 points.
“Coach Bare told us to just go out at halftime and play another good half,” Gayanich said. “This is where those moments in the gym by yourself really pay off. This is a new beginning for Velma-Alma basketball.”
Zac Cable scored 14 points on the night with Checotah Lynn added six points. Dallas Bare put in five points, with Conner Sullivan and L.L. Humphreys both scoring two points.
Glencoe (27-1) was led by Hunter Hall with 23 points followed by Jake Lazenby with 15 points. Ty Lazenby scored 14 points with Kagen Castlebury putting in seven points.
V-A will now await the draw for the state tournament which begins Thursday Feb. 28 from the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Arena in Oklahoma City.
“This was an incredible crowd,” Bare said. “A two and a half hour drive and we had the biggest crowd here. I’m proud of these fans and proud of our team.”