The Sandites made Area for the second consecutive season for the first time in over a decade after defeating Edmond North in the first round of Regionals last week and were matched up against the Booker T Washington Hornets for the first round of Area in the consolation bracket. The game was hosted at Tulsa Memorial tonight and it was packed with enthusiastic fans here to watch one of the best Sandite teams in recent memory.
The Sandites started freshman Colt Savage, freshman Brooks Haddock, sophomore Mack Thompson, sophomore Kyle Keener, and Senior Evan Perry. The Hornets won the jump ball and scored in only twenty seconds with a two point field goal. The Sandites’ first two drives were unsuccessful, but they showed exceptional defense and Savage and Haddock each got rebounds on the next two drives from the hornets. Savage tried to run in for a layup but was fouled. He threw it in to Haddock who missed a three and the Hornets got the rebound, returning it for a 4-0 lead. The Sandites finally got on the board less than thirty seconds later with a two point layup from Keener.
A Hornet free throw and a three pointer from Colt Savage later and the game was tied up 5-5 halfway through the first quarter. The Sandites briefly took the lead with a two point field goal from Jacob Taber but it was the first, last, and only time the Sandites would lead. By the end of the first period, the Sandites trailed 13-7.
Brooks Haddock kicked off the second period with a field goal, then the Hornets dropped a pair of free throws thanks to a personal foul from Savage, but he quickly paid them back with a three point field goal off the backboard. The Hornets sank a three on the next drive, then Haddock got a three bringing it up to 20-14. The Hornets missed the bucket on their next drive and Bryce Dunlap snagged the rebound and got it to Savage who passed it to Haddock who barely missed a three that spun around the rim before launching into the hands of a waiting Hornet.
Next it was a game of free throws as the Hornets shot two for two on a personal foul from Dunlap, then Savage shot one for two, followed by two for four by the Hornets thanks to a couple of personal fouls by Savage and Nichols. Then the Sandites found their feet with a three pointer from Haddock and a two pointer from Nichols. The Hornets scored next but Haddock was right behind them like a stud with a two point jump shot under pressure. A pair of Hornet free throws extend the lead to 28-22 going into the half.
The Hornets started off the third quarter with a two pointer, then Keener returned fire with a two before the Hornets sank a three and continued to distance themselves. The Hornets missed two free throws and Keener got the rebound and ran it all the way up court but missed the layup and the Hornets pushed into a double digit lead shortly thereafter, scoring eight points in a row and taking a 45-24 lead. Things looked bleak for the Sandites, but our boys found another gear and scored nine unanswered points to close the third period 45-33.
The Sandites continued to steamroll the Hornets, scoring a two point field goal only 18 seconds into the fourth period, then showed insane defense, holding off the hornets for over a minute and a half before they managed to get a shot off, that missed and was rebounded by Keener and brought back to Hornet territory where Haddock was fouled shooting for two and sank both of his free throws. On the next Hornet drive, Perry grabbed a rebound and Savage ended up with a three pointer. The Sandites continued to demonstrate some of the best defense they’ve shown all season, with Perry and Thompson both deflecting Hornet passes that caused mad scrambles for Booker T to regain control, then Keener smacked a two point attempt down like a boss. The Sandite streak came to an end with sixteen consecutive points before the Hornets finally got back in it with a pair of free throws due to a personal foul by Haddock.
Perry brought the ball all the way up court and tried for a layup but missed, then rebounded his own shot, and got off a pass to Haddock for a three that was unfortunately redacted due to a traveling call on Perry right before the pass. The Hornets missed their next field goal attempt Haddock snagged the rebound and was quickly fouled and got to shoot one and one, making the first but missing the second. The Hornets got the rebound and the Sandites continued to dominate defensively as the crowd cheered them on in awe at their astounding coverage. The Hornets finally managed to get a two off, then picked up a free throw off of Haddock.
With three and a half minutes left, the Sandites trailed by nine, but had been playing the better game for the last ten minutes. Keener got fouled and dropped two free throws like it was nothing, and the Hornets took a timeout. Whatever play they were planning didn’t come to fruition, as the ball handler made a pass to nobody and the ball traveled out and was turned over to the Sandites. Taber threw it in to Savage who brought it in for a layup attempt, but missed. However, a Booker T player hit the ball on its way down and sent it out so the Sandites got another shot at a basket. Savage threw it in to Haddock who missed a three point jump shot, but Keener was right there for the rebound and despite missing on his first shot, rebounded it again and sank it, narrowing the game to a five point difference with 2:15 to play.
The Hornets grabbed a pair of free throws, then Taber nailed a two. I can’t say enough about our stellar defense tonight. My notes are riddled with “GREAT D! GREAT D! GREAT D!” all over the place. The Hornets burned a timeout with 1:30 left. A technical foul on Taber had the Hornets shooting one and one, but they missed and Haddock grabbed a rebound but missed a three point jump shot that we needed desperately. Hope was rekindled when the Hornets knocked it out and we got it back but now it was Savage missing a three point jump shot.
It seemed like the Sandites were going to rally from a 21 point deficit to a major upset victory but in the last moments the Sandite steam finally ran out. Perry committed a personal foul and the Hornets sank a free throw. Savage dropped a couple of freebies next and the gap was down to four points with under a minute to play. Then Savage committed a personal foul and the Hornets dropped two more down the drain. Then it was Savage again with two, but Perry handed them another free throw and the gap held at five. Mack Thompson took a shot at a three but over threw it, then Haddock handed them a free throw and missed a two as the last vapors of Sandite magic ran out and the season came to a close.
Despite not getting the win, the Sandites showed up to that court. They didn’t play like a team that was majorly outranked. They didn’t play like a team that just came off of a 19 point loss. They played like a team that was out to prove themselves and show the world that the Sandites weren’t to be taken lightly. Last year was the Sandites’ winningest season since 2008, and this year was their winningest season since 2000. Second year Head Coach Eric Savage has turned the program around majorly, and the addition of some amazing young athletes has seen the Sandites make back to back Area appearances for the first time in many years. With a winning record in the regular season and an overall record of 12-12, the Sandites are climbing up the ladder towards being a legitimate state contender in the next few years. With four of its top five players being sophomores or freshmen, the Sandites still have a lot of untapped potential for Coach Savage to bring to light. Savage took his last team, Tulsa Memorial, to four state titles in 10 years including 2013, his last year there before moving to Sand Springs. The future is bright for the Sandites.
Brooks Haddock scored a game high 21 points, shooting 6/7 from the free throw line.
Colt Savage was right behind him with 15 points and shot 2/4 on free throws.
Kyle Keener scored 9 points and was 3/4 on freebies.
Jacob Taber scored 4 points.
Arvionte Nichols scored 2 points.