The Durant Lady Lions finally solved their third period woes but Durant boys couldn’t hold off a late Hugo burst during a split of games in the regular season finale on Saturday.
It was defense that spurred the Durant girls in the opener as they pulled away to a 38-31 win with strong free throw shooting down the stretch.
Four turnovers in the final two minutes proved costly for the Lions in the nightcap as Hugo rallied for the 68-62 victory.
Throughout the season, the third quarter has been the Achilles heel of the Durant Lady Lions with many of the 16 losses of the youth-laden squad being decided right after intermission.
In Saturday’s regular season finale the Lady Lions ran into offensive difficulty again, going nearly five minutes without scoring while committing seven turnovers. Down 22-15, the hosts however got a three-pointer from Haley Morgan to end drought with three minutes remaining before another Morgan bucket off a steal narrowed the gap to a single field goal.
Durant’s defense and rebounding were the story, holding Hugo scoreless over the final four minutes of the frame as Destinee Lewis tied the game in the waning seconds with a bucket to cap 7-0 closing flurry.
The Lady Lions continued that effort into the final stanza with a Lewis basket and four Breanna Simmons free throws to build a 28-22 advantage before the visitors finally snapped a drought of their own of more than eight minutes without a point.
Hugo rallied to within two points in the final minutes but Durant had the answer at the free throw line, a place where the Lady Lions had struggled in recent games, including a one-for-eight performance on Friday.
They were still only two-for-seven at the charity stripe through three stanzas but canned 12 of 17 at the line in the final period as Hugo resorted to fouling to try and get back into the game.
Much of that performance came from Simmons, who sank 12 of 17 for the game and finished with 14 points. Haley Morgan also contributed 14, connecting on four three-pointers.
The Lady Lions also got nine points and seven rebounds from Destinee Lewis and a free throw by Tristyn Hamilton to round out the scoring.
Durant committed 21 turnovers but nine of those came in the opening quarter. The Lady Lions took care of the ball fairly well against the Hugo pressure in the final frame, ending with just three over the last eight minutes.
“Our defense really carried us and we did a much better job of handling their pressure in the fourth quarter,” head coach Phil Daniel said. “Breanna stepped up and hit some big free throws for us to help put it away.
“It was good to finish with some momentum heading into the playoffs.”
The Lady Lions, now 5-16, will be idle until Thursday, February 23 when they travel to Shawnee to face the hosts at 8 p.m.
Class 3A’s fifth-ranked Hugo rode into Saturday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the entire state with a 12-game winning streak and only losses to 6A Westmoore and 5A top-rated Carl Albert.
Durant gave the Buffaloes all they wanted before a late 10-0 surge in the waning minutes put Hugo ahead to stay.
The visitors looked like they might run away with it in the opening quarter, taking advantage of nine Durant turnovers to build a 22-12 lead. Senior Taylor Cox sank three treys and converted a conventional three-point play for the Lions’ lone points in the first stanza.
Period number two was a different story entirely as the Lions took care of the ball much better and found some offensive balance with Tre’ Harper, Brady Nichols, Wes Engle and Cade Buchanan all getting in on the scoring. Freshman Daniel Long also came off the bench to drain a three-pointer from the right corner that cut the Hugo lead to 30-29 at intermission.
The Buffaloes pushed the margin back to six early in the third frame before Durant stormed back once again, taking the lead for the first time at 44-42 on a Cade Buchanan driving layin with 2:19 left.
Engle added a three-pointer and Hugo closed with five points to knot it at 47 entering the final quarter.
Durant looked like it might take control midway through the fourth, taking its biggest lead at 57-52 following an Engle trey and Buchanan putback before Hugo answered behind Kyon Freeman and Kealin Scott to even it at 58.
Two free throws by Nichols with 2:14 remaining put Durant in front 60-58 but following a timeout Hugo ramped up the defensive pressure, forcing four Lion turnovers in the final two minutes. Three of those miscues led directly to Buffalo transition buckets during a 10-0 run.
Durant’s final points came on a Cox layup with nine seconds left as he finished with a game-high 26 points.
Buchanan notched 12, Engle added 11, Harper scored six, Nichols had four and Long notched three.
For Hugo, Scott totaled 21 points while Freeman chipped in 18. G’Quavious Lennox also reached double figures with 11.
The Lions close the regular season at 11-11 and will visit Del City in the regional opener on Friday, February 24 at 8 p.m.
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or [email protected]