KINGFISHER — Kyle Pfaff knew the toughest free throw was the first one. After that, it’d be easier he told himself.
That in mind, Pfaff made the first, and the second, and the third after he was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 16.6 seconds to play with and Okarche trailing Hennessey by two in the Three Rivers Conference Championship game.
His free throws proved to be the game-winning points as Okarche came from behind to beat the Eagles, 49-47, after Carlos Rojo’s 3-pointer missed as time expired. The Warriors rallied from five points down with only 0:57 to play in regulation.
“I’ll admit that I was very nervous,” Pfaff said of heading to the line with the game in his hands. “But I’ve been working on them and I knew I could do it. I had to do it for my team.”
Pfaff made the all-important first and second free throws to tie, then had to hit the third out of a timeout.
“I was most nervous about the first one, because if I had missed that one the pressure was definitely on,” he said, adding that no one in the huddle said anything about the free throw he was about to shoot. “I knew I could make the third one. All the pressure was off.”
Pfaff did, but Class A No. 8 Okarche’s comeback wasn’t complete yet. Rojo drove the length of the floor, but his contested layup rattled out into the hands of Wyatt Krittenbrink of Okarche. Krittenbrink took a foul and made 1-of-2 foul shots to the put the Warriors ahead by two.
Rojo, 3A No. 10 Hennessey’s leading scorer, had one last chance from about 25 feet, but his shot was an air-ball as time expired. He was held scoreless on the night.
“That was a big reason why we won tonight,” head coach Ray West said of shutting out Rojo. “That’s coach (Aaron) West’s defense. I want to give him big time credit.”
Pfaff finished with 10 points and was one of three Warriors in double figures. Jake Banfield led Okarche with 13 points, including a critical 3-pointer that brought Okarche to within one with 0:55 to play. Josh Harris added 11.
Hennessey’s Dalton Vinson scored 16 points to lead all scorers.
Okarche’s win completed quite a turn around from last year’s Three Rivers Tournament, when the Warriors went 0-3 and finished last.
“Going from worst to first is probably the best feeling ever,” said Pfaff. “We were in the toilet bowl last year and we lost it. Eighth to first…it feels good.”
Cashion 59, Okarche 38
Cashion continues to be the Okarche Lady Warriors kryptonite at the Three Rivers Conference Tournament.
After beating top-ranked Okarche (12-2) by a point in the semifinals a season ago, the Lady Wildcats led wire-to-wire in the girls championship game this year.
Paced by Presley Payahsape’s 18 points, 2A No. 6 Cashion (7-0) led by six after a quarter, by ten at half and by 16 after three. The Lady Wildcats led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
Kinsey Neiderer was the only Lady Warrior in double figures. She had 13. Karson Maple, the hero of last year’s game for Cashion, added 13.