By Evan Grice
Less than three days after claiming one of their biggest wins of the season, the No. 3 Piedmont Wildcats got their biggest loss of the season Monday night.
Against No. 6 El Reno, the Wildcats came out strong in the first few minutes, but the buzz fizzled out before the end of the quarter, ultimately leading to a 64-44 defeat.
The loss was the second in three games for the Wildcats (15-4), who will host Guymon in the first round of regionals Friday night at 8 p.m. from Collett Fieldhouse.
“This just boils down to us not being ready to play,” Piedmont coach Ryan Wagner said. “There’s no other way to explain it. Our guys didn’t show up ready to play, and couldn’t match the intensity that El Reno brought. They hit open shots and got rebounds and we didn’t. We had a big win Friday night (vs. Carl Albert), and this time they chose to do it their way, and they got it handed to them again.”
After tying the game at 6-6 with 4:42 left in the first quarter, the Indians decided to kick it up a notch by going on a 5-0 run within 35 seconds to make it an 11-6 ball game.
A 22-13 deficit at the end of the first quarter swelled into a 40-18 lead for El Reno at the half.
Piedmont wasn’t helped by a poor shooting performance in the first quarter which saw the Wildcats go 7-for-21 from the field.
Things didn’t get much better for the Wildcats after halftime, as the Indians kept up the intensity, earning a season split over Piedmont, matching Guthrie as the only other team to have accomplished the feat.
“We didn’t take the game seriously, and thought it was going to be an easy win,” Senior Cameron Peters said. “Coach Wagner told us we just need to get our minds back on track and not take the game for granted. From this point forward we need to not only play hard, but play every game like it’s our last.”
El Reno’s Michael Jones turned in a career-high night on senior night as he finished with 22 points, including going 9-for-11 from the field.
Piedmont was led by Adrion Williams with 17 points, the majority of which came in the fourth quarter.
Cameron Peters finished with 13 points, followed by Darrius Burris with eight points.
Kendell Frankin added five points for the Wildcats.