By Evan Grice
For nearly the entire Buckle of the Wheatbelt Tournament, things were going smoothly for the No. 4 Piedmont Wildcats.
They had already driven through Clinton and Chisholm en route to the championship game against Kingfisher, and things were going according to plan against the Yellow Jackets.
That was, until the fourth quarter.
After taking a 51-42 lead into the final frame of the contest, the Wildcats were held to a season low two-points in the final eight minutes of the game as they suffered their second one-point loss of the season, 54-53 in the boys championship of the Wheatbelt Tournament.
“Our downfall didn’t just happen in the fourth quarter, it had been building throughout the second half,” Piedmont coach Ryan Wagner said. “Things just came to a head. When the pressure is on, your inability to execute is magnified and that’s what happened at the end of the game. Our kids didn’t execute the play we had drawn up at the end of the game, and the refs aren’t going to call that foul. The play we had drawn up was there, we just didn’t get it to the right person.”
At the end of the first half, the Wildcats held a 35-28 lead, and looked to be in control of the game.
With 5:16 left in the third quarter, the lead had been increased to 51-34, and thoughts of a celebration were starting to sink in throughout the Kingfisher All-Purpose building.
However, by the 1:20 mark of the fourth quarter when KHS took the lead, any thoughts of celebrating went out the window and survival became the name of the game for the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, a last ditch effort fell short once again for Piedmont, as the Wildcats suffered just their second loss of the season.
Grant Smith finished with a game-high 24 points which included six three point shots on the night.
“Basically in the second half alone we didn’t execute,” Smith said. “Kingfisher made the right plays and they ended up beating us. Everything was clicking for them. We missed some block outs and didn’t get rebounds like we should have. There’s no doubt that we’ll come back stronger, it’s basically all on us right now.”
Kendell Franklin finished with 12 points, followed by Adrion Williams with nine points.
Cameron Peters scored four points while Jayden Shively put in two points.
Piedmont will be back at home Friday night for a matchup against No. 5 El Reno with tip-off set for 8 p.m. from Collett Fieldhouse.
Piedmont 73 Chisholm 44
In the semifinals against the Longhorns from Chisholm, the Wildcats simply made a statement.
After quickly jumping out to a 12-3 lead, Piedmont never looked back as the Wildcats cruised to a 29-point victory over CHS.
At the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats were well out in front of the Longhorns at 22-5, before taking a 34-19 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Piedmont took a 53-30 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Adrion Williams had a career-high for the Wildcats on the night with 30 points followed by Cameron Peters with 14 points.
Dupree Millhouse scored seven points with Kendell Franklin putting in five points. Grant Smith scored four points for the Wildcats.
Piedmont 67 Clinton 28
While Clinton might be known as the Red Tornadoes, the only storm blowing through Thursday afternoon in Kingfisher was a Wildcat storm.
PHS took a 4-4 contest and turned it into a blowout as the Wildcats crushed Clinton in the opening round of the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Tournament.
Piedmont took a 22-6 lead at the end of first quarter, before taking a 37-18 lead into the locker room for halftime.
Clinton found itself down 54-27 at the end of the third quarter.
Cameron Peters led the offense with 20 points on the night, just a day after committing to play basketball for Oklahoma Christian University.
Grant Smith finished with 16 points in the contest, with Kendell Franklin adding 12 points.
Adrion Williams scored four points for the Wildcats.