CNHI News Services
LOCUST GROVE —
Tyler Rowland scored 24 points, tournament MVP Mason Fine added 16 and Locust Grove claimed the 2014 Bank of Locust Grove Invitational championship with a 63-51 win over Verdigris at Pirate Arena Saturday.
"We've been in the finals every year that I've been here, and we've played some good teams," Locust Grove head coach Ronnie Maple said.
"That was just a good playoff basketball game. I don't like that the tournament ended up as a three-day deal, but that's how we have to prepare on a Thursday-Friday-Saturday for regional, area and the state tournament."
Class 4A's No. 12 Locust Grove (7-1) never trailed and led by as many as 16 points, but Class 3A's No. 3 Cardinals flew back to make it a 45-43 game late in the third quarter thanks to pressure defense on the perimeter and a few controversial calls in Verdigris' favor.
In the end, the Pirates relied on a familiar formula — get the ball inside to junior big man Colton Pike — to seal the win. Pike scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, which saw the Pirates reestablish a double-digit lead.
"We knew we'd get some looks inside the way they were taking away our guards late in that third quarter," Maple said.
"I'll take Colton one-on-one versus anybody."
Rowland, an All-Tournament selection, rattled in some huge buckets late in the game and emphatically blocked a Laef Payne runner in the closing moments.
That put an exclamation mark on LG's victory in an increasingly loud and heated game.
Cardinals Caleb Jones (19 points, eight rebounds) and Cade Upshaw (nine points) were named to the All-Tournament team, joining the Pirates' Zach Robinson and Cascia Hall's Bryce Carter.
* * *
Meanwhile, Tournament MVP Baileigh O'Dell lit up Locust Grove for 33 points to push Verdigris to a 60-52 win and the 2014 Bank of Locust Grove Invitational championship Saturday at Pirate Arena.
Locust Grove (6-2) closed an 11-point halftime deficit to two in the third quarter, but behind O'Dell's 22-point second half, Verdigris was able to puff its margin back to 10 and hold off the Lady Pirates down the stretch.
All-Tournament selection Madison Davis led Class 4A No. 10 Locust Grove with 16 points but was held scoreless in the last eight minutes. Kennedy Sokoloski added a dozen points and Morgan Littlebear pitched in 11.
Lady Cardinal Keara Battenfield was named to the All-Tournament team and scored 15 points. Courtney Risenhoover (six points) also earned All-Tournament.