By Evan Grice
While the No. 4 Piedmont Wildcats got a convincing victory over the Chickasha Fighting Chicks Tuesday night, it was less than a masterpiece.
A sluggish second half performance put a damper on what was another dominating display by the Wildcats in their home debut at Collett Fieldhouse.
Even though the Wildcats claimed a 63-43 victory, head coach Ryan Wagner was less than pleased about the overall body of work following the contest.
“I addressed with our team first off accountability on the defensive end,” he said. “Our rotations were too slow and we were sloppy there. We also didn’t show any toughness on the glass. There were some personnel issues where we were battling each other. Some people wanted to do things one way and others wanted to do it another way. That really sums up that situation right there.”
Leading 44-24 at the half, the Wildcats offense struggled in the third quarter as they were just able to manage 10 points with Chickasha scoring 16.
That performance was followed up by a nine-point fourth quarter, which saw the Wildcats outscored again in consecutive quarters for the first time this season by an opponent.
For the fourth game in a row though, the Wildcats found themselves with at least two players in double figures as Adrion Williams finished the game with 21 points to lead all scorers. Cameron Peters scored 20 points in the first half, with Grant Smith adding 12 points.
“At halftime I talked with our coaches about how we have such a senior laden team with a lot of talent,” Wagner said. “This is something we haven’t had before. We’re trying to learn how to harness it all and become a championship team. We weren’t very sharp tonight, but our coaching staff and I are going to fix those issues.”
Chickasha managed to tie the game at 2-2 at the 6:15 mark of the first quarter, before the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run to take a 7-2 lead with 5:31 left in the first.
Two technical fouls against the Wildcats on Darrius Burris and Cameron Peters in the first quarter threatened to let CHS get back in the contest, but a strong offensive and defensive presence kept a comeback from becoming complete.
CHS managed to get within one point at 7-6, but could get no closer the rest of the way as the Fighting Chicks found themselves down 21-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Kendell Franklin finished with six points for the Wildcats, with Darrius Burris scoring four points.
Cole Young led Chickasha with 15 points on the night followed by Brock Hendersen with 10 points.
Piedmont will be competing in the Bethany Classic Tournament starting on Thursday through Saturday Jan. 11.
The Wildcats opening game will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening against Tecumseh from Bethany High School.
“We’re going to be seeing an identical team like we saw this evening when we play Tecumseh,” Wagner said. “This is going to show us just how much growth we have done. We’re going to have to do some growing up in a short amount of time.”
A victory will see the Wildcats take on either Casady or Western Heights in the second round at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening.
“This tournament is going to be a real gutcheck for us,” Wagner said. “Are we going to stay in the trenches and execute? That’s something we’re going to find out when we compete. We’ll have to be ready in each game.”
Piedmont will then return home following the tournament for a contest against Guthrie Jan. 14 before a road trip to Shawnee to face the Wolves.
Just over a week later the Wildcats will travel to the Battle of the Wheatbelt Tournament in Kingfisher before homecoming against El Reno will take place on January 31st.
Games against Noble and a rematch with Deer Creek will follow thereafter with a road contest against Bethany taking place on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.