By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — When Brayden Powell left Southmoore to attend school at Moore last year, it was not on the friendliest of circumstances. So whenever the two schools hook up, no one wants to win more than him.
Powell showed how much it means to him as he helped lead the Lions to a 65-59 victory over the SaberCats in Friday’s semifinals of the John Nobles Classic.
“It was great,” Powell said. “Especially because we’ve wanted this as a team for a long time. The guys wanted to do it for me because I came from there. We wanted to show I’m family, too.”
The Lions lost to Southmoore earlier in the season. But coach Aaron Howell said before the game he had a talk with his players that may have set the tone for the evening.
“I think everybody is on the same page now,” Howell said. “We had ourselves a little come-to-Jesus, and we basically said if you’re going to be here, be here. If you want to get gone, get gone.”
With 2:46 left in the game, Jaylon Wilson put the Lions up 54-49 with a pair of free throws. However, Justin Bean answered for the SaberCats with a 3-point play to cut lead to two.
Dante Butler gave Moore a 56-52 advantage with two more free throws. Bean missed a 3-pointer, and Powell finished a fastbreak with a thundering two-hand dunk and was fouled. The ensuing free throw put Moore up five.
Moore’s Justin Beam added two more from the foul line on the next possession.
The game seemed to be over, but Southmoore quickly cut the lead to 61-59. Wilson hit 1-of-2 from the line and the Lions led by three with 45 seconds left. The SaberCats missed a shot and fouled Moore’s Zeke Guy on the other end. He hit both free throws to put the contest away.
“We just took too long to wake up,” Southmoore’s Preston Smith said. “It was there. We had to grab it. It was there. We just didn’t wake up in time.”
Bean led the Cats with 21 points. Darius Hodge added 20 while Chelvin Webb chipped in with 13.
Butler paced the Lions with 18 points. Wilson and Diontre Cutliff each scored 11 while Powell posted 8.
The SaberCats play Flower Mound at 5:30 p.m. for third place.
In the championship game at 8:30 p.m., the Lions will have their hands full against Redemption Christian Home School Academy (Texas) and Khadeem Lattin, who has signed to play basketball at the University of Oklahoma next season. But it’s a challenge they are looking forward to accepting.
“I’m going to play him as tough as possible,” Powell said. “If we came out like we did tonight, I think we have a pretty good chance. I am excited to play them. The team is excited to play them to test ourselves.”
Redemption Christian Home School Academy 77, Flower Mound 57: After a slow start, the Pride picked it up in the second half against the Rebels.
“We kind of hit our stride,” RCA coach Ed Chung said. “We are really more of a defensive team. That is where we hang our hat. The second half we started hitting some jumpshots.”
Niji Washington Jr. led the Pride with 24 points. Lattin racked up 16.
Despite foul trouble, Devonte Patterson paced Flower Mound with 15 points. Ethan Chapman chipped in with 13.
“We have been playing so much better,” Lattin said. “This might be our best basketball. Just really playing as a team and just enjoying the game.”
No. 5 Choctaw girls 65, Moore 43: The Lady Lions found themselves trailing 24-8 after eight minutes of action. Choctaw took advantage of multiple first half turnovers and turned them into easy fastbreak points.
Moore slowed the Yellowjackets’ attack down somewhat in the second half, but just didn’t have enough firepower to make up any ground.
Choctaw Freshman Ana Llanusa led all scorers with 22 points.
Amanda Patterson paced the Lions with 17 points. Ashlie Rose added 11.
The Yellowjackets will face Eisenhower at 7 p.m. in the title game. Moore will play Ponca City for third at 4 p.m.
Eisenhower girls 44, Ponca City 26: The Eagles held the Cats to five first-half points and never let up.
Crystal Polk poured in 23 points to lead the Eisenhower.
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