Jan. 20—The Hornets took control, and fed off the buzzing energy of the crowd.
Stuart and Kiowa went toe-to-toe in Saturday 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament championship game at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, with the Hornets using fire-hot shooting to win 45-37 and earn the program's 11th conference tournament title.
Coach Josh Williams said he was proud of the Hornets' effort to control the pace of the game, and a lot of the success stemmed from senior leadership.
"That was the plan, we knew we had to control the basketball because Kiowa is so fundamental, and they're good," he said. "Hats off to my kids...we played an outstanding game, I think. I'm proud of our seniors Gabe (Clayton) and Dre (Colbert), they played excellent.
"We had a little adversity, and then they still played hard," Williams added. "I got to give it to our kids, they played well."
Willaims also pointed to his team's toughness and grit to earn the championship win, especially coming off a tough semifinal with Savanna just two days previously.
"The kids did pretty good. They fought back, rebounded well," Williams said. "So I got to give it to them."
Noah Foris broke the ice for the Cowboys with a jumper, followed by his brother Eli Foris on a fast-break score to give Kiowa the early lead. Dre'von Colbert hit a free throw followed by a Gabe Clayton made bucket to put the Hornets on the board.
Colbert next drained a smooth three-point shot, putting Stuart out in front. Myer Medders was then fouled and sent to the line, hitting both for the Cowboys to tie up the game once more.
Clayton nabbed a steal-and-score, but Noah Foris sank a contested trey in response. Back and forth they battled, but a foul at the buzzer sent Colbert to the line — where he hit the back end to put Stuart up 11-9 heading into the second quarter.
A free throw from Noah Foris and a successful pump fake from Myer Medders propelled Kiowa back into the narrow lead. Clayton answered with back-to-back jumpers, giving the Hornets the lead once more.
Cason Church hit a free throw on the opposite end of the floor, but Nolan Stewart answered with a jumper of his own to create some space for Stuart. Zack Luker followed with a hard-earned bucket, while Eli Foris nabbed one on the other side of the floor.
With the seconds ticking down, Colbert went into motion and willed the ball into the ring — putting Stuart up 21-15 at the half.
Luker and Noah Foris traded points for both teams to start the second half of play, followed by points for Clayton and Church leading to a 27-22 Stuart lead in the opening minutes of the third. Stewart then got an offensive rebound and cleanup bucket, putting the Hornets up seven.
Church earned a layup followed by a contested long-range three from Eli Foris, cutting the deficit to two points. Stewart was then sent to the line for the Hornets, extending the lead back to four with 1:01 to play in the period. But Church laid in one more bucket, trimming the Stuart lead to 31-29 heading into the final quarter.
Wyatt Shropshire went to the line for Kiowa to start the fourth period, hitting the front end to trim the lead down to one point. Colbert was sent to the line on the opposite end of the floor, hitting both to extend the differential back to three.
The Hornets rattled off a scoring run, taking an eight-point lead with three minutes to play. The Cowboys answered with a layup and called a timeout with 2:15 to play and Stuart leading 40-34.
On the other side, the Hornets stayed hot on the offensive end of the floor — jumping out to a 10-point lead. Cooper McClendon ended the run with a swirling three with 44.9 to play, bringing the deficit down to seven.
Kiowa was forced to foul, sending both Lindley and Luker to the line. The pair combined for two-of-four free throws, sealing the win for the Hornets.
Clayton led the Hornets with 12 points, followed by Colbert with 11 points, Stewart with eight points, Lindley with seven points, Luker with six points, and Cody Cook with a free throw.
Noah Foris led the Cowboys with 11 points, followed by Church and Eli Foris with seven points each, Medders with six points, and Shropshire and Cooper McClendon with three points each.
SAVANNA 44, CROWDER 29 (Third place)
The Bulldogs weren't going to back down.
Crowder and Savanna squared off Saturday in the 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament third-place game at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, where the Bulldogs used a second-half run on the way to a 44-29 win.
Jeffrie Byington got the Demons on the board first, with Austin Motley swishing a long-range triple on the way to an early lead. But Ashton Bogard answered with a three of his own to tie up the game at 5-5.
Savanna rattled off a run, with Tracyn Eldridge later nabbing a shot to put the Bulldogs up by five. Byington answered with a bucket for the Demons, but Savanna punched right back with a pair of foul shots from Chants Leflore on the way to a 12-7 Bulldog lead heading into the second quarter.
Logan Anderson posted up for a shot to get Crowder going in the next period, with Bogard earning a layup on the other end to answer for Savanna. Daniel Ellis and Anderson hit back-to-back buckets, pulling the Demons back within a points with 5:29 left in the half.
The Bulldogs and Demons battled down the stretch, with an Eldridge dunk capping a Savanna run on the way to a 23-17 lead at the locker room break.
Kinyon Burge drilled a triple to start the second half for the Bulldogs, and Bogard added a pair of free throws to extend the Savanna lead to 11. That sparked another Bulldog run, with Savanna leading 36-18 after three quarters.
Both teams fought to the end, but it'd be the Bulldogs taking the win and third-place honors.
Bogard led the Bulldogs with 16 points, followed by Eldridge with 15 points, Leflore with six points, Burge with five points, and Anthony Reagan with two points.
Byington led the Demons with eight points, followed by Anderson with seven points, Motley and Ellis with six points each, and Johnatthan Lizik with two points.
CANADIAN 47, PITTSBURG 45 (Consolation championship)
Fans stood excitedly on their feet as they willed their teams to the final horn.
Pittsburg and Canadian battled Saturday in the 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament consolation final at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, where the Cougars held off the Panthers 47-45 to be named consolation champions.
After trading free throws to start the game, Bryson Buie drilled a three to give Canadian a 5-1 lead. AJ Tabb followed on the next trip down the floor with a smooth euro step, sinking his score to keep the Cougars moving forward.
Jaden Rogers rattled in a hard-earned shot to continue the run, but Garrett Wood nabbed a shot for Pittsburg to make it an 11-3 Canadian lead after the opening quarter.
Will Caudill got the Panthers going to start the second period, but Rogers answered with a long-range swishing three to spark the Cougars once again. Caudill responded with another swirling jumper, as the Panthers looked to cut into the lead.
Wood drove in to float in a basket, helping trim the deficit to seven. The two teams began trading shots and possessions as Pittsburg called a timeout with 2:02 to play and Canadian leading 20-13. Wood then drilled a trey, pulling the Panthers within four points.
Pittsburg had the last possession, with Shaedyn Wilcox sinking a baseline jumper at the buzzer to make it a 20-18 Canadian lead at the halftime break.
Rogers posted up for a baseline score to start the second half, but Wood answered with a triple to cut the Canadian lead to one. Wood followed with a scoop and score, putting the Panthers out in front.
Tabb sparked a run for the Cougars, drilling five quick points to push Canadian back in front. The Panthers answered with one of their own behind Wood to tie up the game with under a minute to play — but the Cougars punched right back to take a 33-29 lead after three quarters.
The Canadian hot streak continued into the fourth period. The Panthers battled and pulled the score within a single point with 12.6 remaining. Pittsburg would be forced to foul, sending Rogers to the line — with Rogers hitting the back end to help seal away the win.
Rogers led the way for the Cougars with 29 points, followed by Tabb with 11 points, Buie with five points, and Adden Smitherman with two points.
Wood led the Panthers with 26 points, followed by Caudill with six points, Wilcox with five points, Kolby Sharp with four points, and Landon Patterson with two points.
Here is the complete 2024 Pitt 8 Conference Tournament boys bracket:
B1: Kiowa 68, Indianola 16
B2: Crowder 78, Canadian 38
B3: Stuart 57, Pittsburg 39
B4: Savanna 66, Haileyville 35
B5: Kiowa 57, Crowder 39
B6: Stuart 44, Savanna 29
B7: Canadian 53, Indianola 35
B8: Pittsburg 44, Haileyville 42
B9: Canadian 47, Pittsburg 45 (Consolation championship)
B10: Savanna 44, Crowder 29 (Third place)
B11: Stuart 45, Kiowa 37 (Championship)