By Evan Grice
For the first half, the No. 3 Piedmont Wildcats showed they were more than up to the task of handling No. 2 Tulsa Memorial in the State Quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
Unfortunately, it was the third quarter which told the real story of the game as the Chargers used a 14-4 run over the first 5:34 of the second half to ultimately eliminate the Wildcats 65-55 at the Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
Memorial was fueled in its run by 53 percent shooting in the third quarter to go with three three-point shots.
“We took some bad shots in the third quarter,” Piedmont coach Ryan Wagner said. “A lot of it had to do with us not executing. When we did execute, then we did a very good job offensively. Tulsa Memorial is big and powerful, and you have to get them credit for that.”
“As this stage you can’t have anyone having an off night,” Wagner added. “Adrion (Williams) kept us in the game in the first half, which I didn’t think we played particularly good in the first half. We just never established a tempo in the game and before we knew it we were fighting an uphill battle.”
Leading 29-27 at the halftime break, it seemed like the Wildcats were gearing up for a solid second half against the seasoned Chargers.
Piedmont took a 31-27 lead at the 6:59 mark of the third quarter, but the lead lasted just 50 seconds as MHS was in front at 32-31 with 6:09 left in the third.
Looks at the basket which were made available in the first half for the Wildcats on the inside were all of a sudden gone, thanks in part to adjustments made by Tulsa Memorial at the halftime break.
“When we got that first blow, then we thought we had them,” Senior Kendell Franklin said. “Unfortunately, they hit us back harder and we didn’t respond. We needed to be stronger going to the basket, and we just settled for too many jump shots during that span.”
By the end of the third quarter, the Wildcats were down 48-39, but still managed to make a game of it late on in the fourth.
Piedmont got to within five points twice against the Chargers, but was unable to get any closer.
A telling stat of the game was at the free throw line, where Memorial managed to make it 23 times, while Piedmont finished 6-for-11 from the charity stripe during the game.
Adrion Williams finished the game leading all scorers with 22 points for the Wildcats (19-6) followed by Kendell Franklin with 10 points for Piedmont.
Cameron Peters scored six for the Wildcats, with Grant Smith and Dupree Millhouse both adding five points.
Tulsa Memorial (19-7) was led by Demari Edwards with 18 points followed by A.J. Cockrell with 14 points and Alec Voskuhl-Staab with 13 points.