By Evan Grice
Earlier this season following their first defeat of the year, the No. 3 Piedmont Wildcats bounced back in a big way in their following game.
Friday night was no different as the Wildcats made everyone forget about their heartbreaking loss to Kingfisher in the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Finals, with a commanding 60-46 victory over then No. 5 El Reno at Collett Fieldhouse.
More importantly in the grander scheme of things, the Wildcats stayed unbeaten in Suburban Conference play with a 5-0 mark, and lead second placed Carl Albert by one game in the standings.
“They (El Reno) came out and hit us first,” Wildcat forward Grant Smith said. “We knew if we got good ball movement all you had to do was drive and hit the opposite block. That’s all Coach Wagner was telling us was to drive, get a couple of reversals and the defense would open up out there. Making sure everyone got a touch and working inside-out was the big thing for us tonight.
“In the first quarter they got eight offensive rebounds on us, which hadn’t happened to us all season,” Smith added. “Coach Wagner told us at halftime we needed to get more aggressive on the boards and we did that. I mainly want to thank all of the students and fans that came out tonight, they were amazing.”
There was perhaps no bigger impact player on the night than Adrion Williams, who finished with 18 points against the Indians.
10 of those 18 points came at a critical stage of the game in the fourth quarter after the Wildcats held a slim 38-36 advantage following the end of the third quarter, something El Reno never quite recovered from.
“If you look at the book, we went on a huge run in the final five minutes of the game,” Piedmont coach Ryan Wagner said. “The big issue for us was we had a bad taste in our mouths from Kingfisher. More importantly, I was frustrated with the way we played. Our kids managed to stay in the moment with us and responded well to what we were doing. Especially in the last four to five minutes of this game, our kids responded and did things right.”
El Reno managed to come out early and take the Wildcats by surprise with a 5-0 lead at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter.
EHS managed to hold off the Wildcats in the first quarter and take a 16-14 lead into the second.
Piedmont though came back and took a 24-23 lead going into the halftime break, and led by as many as seven points in the third quarter.
Grant Smith finished with 15 points on the night, with Cameron Peters scoring eight points.
“Coach Wagner had known I had gotten into foul trouble early in the game for driving into the paint, and he just told me to be a threat on the defensive end on the glass,” Peters said. “When you have people who can be threats in other ways on the court, it helps us all relax a little more. It takes the pressure off of us as scorers and helps us play better. Grant (Smith) did a heck of a job penetrating and hitting shots and Adrion (Williams) really sparked us near the end with the way he was playing out there.”
Kendell Franklin finished with six points along with Dupree Millhouse and Jayden Shively for the Wildcats (11-2).
Piedmont’s regularly scheduled game against Noble Tuesday night was canceled due to the weather. PHS is scheduled to take the floor Friday night Feb. 7 against Deer Creek with tip-off set for 8 p.m. from Collett Fieldhouse.