The Wildcats stared down the No. 1 team in Class 5A on Tuesday night and hung around with the top ranked Titans for a half. Piedmont couldn’t stick with Carl Albert in the second half and were handed a 62-49 defeat.
Piedmont shot out of the gate on Tuesday. The Wildcats built a 12-5 lead over the Titans by the 4:19 mark of the first quarter but the Titans proved why they are the top team in Class 5A by battling back and tying it at 18 all with 27 seconds left in the quarter.
Carl Albert got their first lead on the opening possession of the second quarter but Piedmont hung with the Titans blow for blow. An Adrion Williams floater with 58 seconds remaining pulled Piedmont back within two points but some offensive mistakes in the waning seconds let Carl Albert go into the break with a four point lead.
Cameron Peters tied the ballgame at 29 at the 6:28 mark of the third. The tide turned against the Wildcats Peters went to the bench with four fouls with 5:19 left in the quarter with Piedmont trailing by five. Carl Albert scored eight unanswered points to end the quarter and take a 43-30 lead into the final frame.
Piedmont tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter but were only able to cut it to single digits once. The Titans were able to hit their free throws and break down Piedmont’s defense down the stretch to clinch the decisive victory.
“I think we didn’t adjust,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. “I told the kids that Coach Price would make it a point at halftime to come out and be intense. In my lockerroom, I told them that. I urged to play like they’re supposed to and we came out flat. We had 11 turnovers in the third quarter and that’s the game right there. Eleven turnovers and not hitting our free throws. It’s about being mentally tough. When your offense isn’t in a flow, you have to be able to make free throws so you can keep scoring.”
“We have to execute,” Grant Gipson said. “Free throws are a big factor. We can always do better. We have to have the heart to do it. We need to come out on Friday with heart and show that we still have confidence, that we can still be the best.”