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Archive for: February 2017

Piedmont places program-record five at state, Heindselman second

Blake Colston

OKLAHOMA CITY – Piedmont’s wrestling team placed a program-record five wrestlers, earned its highest finish as a team and produced a state runner-up in its annual trip to the Class 5A state tournament at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City Friday and Saturday.

Blake Colston/Gazette Josh Heindselman wrestles Matt Smith of Tulsa Bishop Kelley in the Class 5A 220-pound state finals Saturday,

Blake Colston/Gazette
Josh Heindselman wrestles Matt Smith of Tulsa Bishop Kelley in the Class 5A 220-pound state finals Saturday,

Sophomore 220-pounder Josh Heindselman won by fall twice to reach the finals, where he lost a hard-fought 7-3 decision to Tulsa Bishop Kelley senior Matt Smith.

Wyatt Lewis (third), Fisher Johnson (third), Mason Moser (fourth) and Logan Chappell (fourth) rounded out Piedmont’s placers. Piedmont was fifth as a team.

“Overall, I can’t complain. It was a really good weekend for us,” head coach Erik Ford said.

Heindselman closes season in style

Josh Heindselman entered this season with one goal in mind. He wanted to qualify for the state tournament.

By the end of the 220-pound sophomore’s season, that goal probably seemed like a distant memory.

Heindselman wrestled in front of more than 7,500 fans Saturday night in the Class 5A state final, and although he didn’t get the desired result, the experience capped an incredible season.

“I felt like I had a pretty successful season,” the soft-spoken Heindselman said. “At the beginning, I just wanted to qualify for state. Then I wanted to place at state and then I wanted to win state.”

Along the way, Heindselman won 26 consecutive matches and notched a regional championship. He closed the season 36-5 overall with 13 of his wins coming in overtime. Fittingly, his final overtime win was a pin of Tahlequah’s Dustin Hicks in the state semifinals.

“Every time I got into overtime I felt like I should win,” he said. “That last win was definitely exciting.”

Ford couldn’t recall a wrestler under his tutelage with a stronger penchant for winning tight matches.

“Just a crazy year for him. He really started to catch fire after Christmas break,” Ford said. “He’s a competitor. I can’t say anything else about him. He knew if he pushed a match into that seventh minute he had a great chance.”

Heindselman also won by fall in his opening match at state against Korbin McLaughlin of Skiatook. He was Piedmont’s first underclassman to reach the state finals under Ford.

“He knows his strengths and he wrestles to them,” Ford said. “And he did it at what we call a grown man’s weight. At 220 pounds there aren’t a bunch of little kids out there.”

Recaps of other placers:

Fisher Johnson, 3rd (152): Johnson pinned first-round opponent Corbin Ballard of Claremore then defeated Teddy Thomas of Lawton Mac 7-6 to reach the third place match. There he beat Colby Graves of Guthrie 6-2 to take third.

Wyatt Lewis, 3rd (160): Lewis rallied from an opening round defeat with wins over Cade Cook of Duncan, Gunner Kreie of Tulsa East Central and Ryce Hakmaker (by fall) of Collinsville to take third.

Logan Chappell, 4th (126): Chappell, a junior, earned his third consecutive top four finish at state by beating Connor Henson of Collinsville in the opening round and Bennett Sherrer of Pryor in the consolation bracket.

Mason Moser, 4th (138): Moser won a 23-9 major decision over Enrique Barcenas of Shawnee and pinned Collin Elias of Tulsa Bishop Kelley in the consolation semifinals to reach the third place match where he lost 2-1 to Parker Price of Claremore.

Five other Wildcats take part in state tournament

Bo Hardy (113), Mitchell Lance (132), Hunter Johnson (170), Will Heindselman (182) and Dylan Meador (195) also qualified for state, but did not place. Hardy, Lance, Johnson and Heindselman will all return next season for Piedmont.

Sperle caps Piedmont’s comeback with game-winner

Blake Colston

Piedmont head coach Jordan Stark has been part of wild comebacks before as a player and a coach, but her team’s rally Saturday ranks among the best.

Her fourth-ranked Lady Wildcats came back from eight points down in the fourth quarter and six points behind in the last two minutes to edge No. 16 Lawton MacArthur, 54-53, on a shot from Maddie Sperle with six seconds to play to clinch a regional championship.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont celebrates with the regional championship plaque after its 54-53 win over Lawton MacArthur.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont celebrates with the regional championship plaque after its 54-53 win over Lawton MacArthur.

“The girls kept their confidence the entire game and never gave up,” Stark said. “That’s them. All the credit to them. This shows how much the girls have developed as far as confidence and basketball knowledge.”

Especially Sperle, who said she’d never made a game-winning shot before Saturday. She said her plan on the final play was simple – make something good happen.

“Luckily it worked out,” she said.

Sperle drove into the paint and flipped up a one-handed shot that rattled around the rim and dropped. She intercepted the Highlanders’ final heave down the court to seal the game.

“We’ve been practicing for situations like that,” Sperle said, “so we just had to go out there and do it.”

A pair of free throws from Sydney Gunter, who scored 11 points, gave Mac a 53-50 lead with 22 seconds remaining. Piedmont answered with a layup from McKenna Kirkpatrick with 0:08. On MacArthur’s ensuing inbound pass, Destiny Cobb caught the ball cleanly near the baseline, but her momentum carried her out of bounds.

Sperle finished with 16 points to lead all scorers. Hannah Reasoner added 13 for Piedmont (21-3). Cobb and Neseana Carter put in 12 apiece for MacArthur (12-13).

MacArthur, which averaged 15 turnovers per game this season, limited its miscues all game, but committed four costly giveaways in the final minute. The Highlanders fouled Piedmont 40 feet from the basket twice down the stretch as well.

“Turnovers at the end just killed us. We couldn’t get the ball up the floor,” a despondent Macarthur head coach Danny Garza said afterwards. “Our effort was there, but we’ve got to make plays at the end. Instead going after the win we were afraid to lose and that’s what happened.”

The win moves Piedmont to within a game of its third state tournament appearance in four years. Momentum? Piedmont has some of that.

“I think this gives the girls the reassurance that if you just go out and take care of business, you go to state,” Stark said. “I think it gives them that extra push to go out, be confident and do what you do.”

MacArthur must now navigate its way through the Area consolation bracket for three consecutive games without a loss to reach state.

“We’ve just got to keep on fighting and see what happens next week,” Garza said.

Piedmont wrestlers head to state tournament Friday

Blake Colston

For the second time in as many seasons, Piedmont’s wrestling team will take nearly its entire 14-man lineup to the Class 5A State Tournament, which begins Friday and continues through Saturday at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Blake Colston/Gazette Mitchell Lance wrestles a match earlier this season.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Mitchell Lance wrestles a match earlier this season.

Of the 10 Piedmont wrestlers who qualified at regionals in Del City last week, each forged his own unique path to Oklahoma City.

See the Class 5A Bracket 

Wyatt Lewis (160), Logan Chappell (126) and Mitchell Lance (132) are making return trips to state, though Lance’s way back was anything but ordinary. The sophomore qualified with a second place finish at regionals despite wrestling with a fractured ankle suffered four weeks prior.

“To see how hard he competed even though he’s completely out of shape and has no business being out there was impressive,” head coach Erik Ford said. “It’s a testament to his will-power and his toughness.”

Then there was 220-pounder Josh Heindselman, who was Piedmont’s lone regional champion. The sophomore won his 11th overtime match of the season in the finals to improve to 34-4 overall and in the process won his 24th consecutive match.

“It’s pretty impressive. He’s used to wrestling those 9-minute matches by now,” Ford said. “Going forward I think it’s great for him that he’s been in a lot of tough matches.”

The most pleasant surprise for Piedmont was freshman 113-pounder Bo Hardy coming from an unseeded position at the regional tournament to reach the finals and take second. On his way, Hardy defeated a pair of wrestlers which he’d gone a combined 0-5 against previously this season.

“We’ve known all year that Bo was talented and a really good wrestler,” Ford said. “We knew if things started to click for him that he’d have a good chance.”

Hardy, who is 21-14 on the year, said his confidence grew after he pulled his first upset.

“I started putting things together and wrestling a little bit better,” he said.

Ford said seeing 170-pound junior Hunter Johnson take fourth and qualify was also a bonus. Like Hardy, Johnson said he knew he had a chance after winning his first match.

“I could tell after that that I was wrestling well,” he said.

Other first-time qualifiers included senior Dylan Meador (195), junior Will Heindselman (182), junior Fisher Johnson (152) and senior Mason Moser (138).

Now, Piedmont will prepare to put together one more strong weekend to close out its season.

“We started talking about changing gears mentally on Saturday night and not just being happy that we’re there,” Ford said. “We want to put our sights on that next level, which is winning matches at the state tournament.”

Piedmont will enter the tournament as the only team guaranteed to leave with a trophy. The Wildcats were named Class 5A academic state champions this week and will be honored as well as pick up their hardware during the state tournament Friday at 4:45 at State Fair Arena.


Lady Wildcats host Western Heights tonight in regional opener

Blake Colston

For the fourth-ranked Piedmont Lady Wildcats, playing their first two postseason games at home is only part of the reason why they’re confident that they can make their third state tournament appearance in four seasons.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont celebrates after Maci Attalla's game-winner Tuesday. Attalla, second from right, scored six points.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont celebrates after Maci Attalla’s game-winner Tuesday. Attalla, second from right, scored six points.

Beyond that, the Lady Wildcats (19-3) know they’re battled tested – Piedmont is 7-2 against the 5A Top 20 this season, with its only losses coming to Shawnee – and that they have as much talent as anyone they’ll face going forward.

“I think we have the most talent,” senior Maddie Sperle said, “it’s just about if we come out every night and use it.”

The road to the state tournament begins tonight at 8 p.m. against Western Heights at Collett Fieldhouse, then continues on, most likely, Saturday at 1:30 in Piedmont against the winner of No. 16 Lawton MacArthur and Guthrie.

See the Class 5A Bracket

“Anytime you get an opportunity to play a couple extra games on your home court it automatically gives you some extra energy,” head coach Jordan Stark said. Piedmont is 9-1 at home this season.

PHS is also 6-0 against the teams in its home regional and has won five of the six by double figures, so there’s plenty of reason for the Lady Wildcats to feel good about advancing. Sperle said taking teams lightly can’t be something they do this postseason, though.

“We have to come out and play hard. We aren’t going to beat every team with just our athletic ability,” she said.

If Piedmont stays in the winner’s bracket as expected, the Lady Wildcats will face another familiar foe, El Reno, in the Area tournament for a chance to go to state. It’s an El Reno team that Piedmont has beaten twice this year, which Stark said is both a good and bad thing, potentially. Each game with the Indians was decided by just two points.

“That matchup is a little scary because it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Stark said. “But I’m excited to play them again because the girls know what to expect and what they have to do to stop them.”

In terms of wins and losses, Piedmont has faced very little adversity this season, averaging just one loss per month, but will enter the postseason off a 62-39 drubbing at third-ranked Shawnee in a game that was for the Suburban

Conference championship. Stark said it was Piedmont’s worst performance of the season and came at a bad time. Not the worst, though.

“I would rather get that game out now then it out come out in the playoffs at any point,” Stark said.

The second-year coach has been hesitant to talk about her team’s chances of advancing to the state tournament previously this season, but with the playoffs set to get underway she stated the Lady Wildcats’ goal plainly.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t make it (to state),” Stark said. “For us to succeed, we all have to buy in and be on the same page.”

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