Forgan's Jace Kerr puts up a shot during Sunday afternoon's Area Consolation matchup with Tyrone in Woodward, Okla. Kerr led the Bulldogs offense with 25 points, including three treys in a 71-42 win that sends the Bulldogs back to the State Tournament to defend their title. Herald-Democrat photo/Brent Lansden
By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
Several questions loomed before the start of the Class B Area I Consolation matchup between Forgan and Tyrone. They were all answered emphatically by the Bulldogs in a 71-42 that earned them a third straight trip to the State Tournament and therefore a chance at a third straight state title.
Before the game the questions were, how would Forgan respond to the blowout loss they suffered less than 24 hours before tipoff? Could Tyrone duplicate some of the success from their previous meeting with Forgan and capitalize on the momentum of their blowout win the previous day?
“I’m really excited about the way our kids responded to the adversity,” Bulldogs coach Todd Kerr said. “This is the third time in the last five years that we’ve been in this situation. I’ve had certain feels during the other two times, and the vibe I got from my guys was that they were going to respond. I didn’t think their confidence had been shaken too much, and that they were going to respond in a positive way. This group has always responded well to adversity, and I think that shows their character.”
It was obvious early in the game that Forgan had responded well, but they also answered the other question by contesting every pass, dribble and shot that Tyrone took.
“The biggest key for us was that we made every defensive possession on the night count,” Kerr said. “We made them work for everything they got. We stayed in front and kept them from getting to the rim very often. We didn’t do a very good job of that against them the first time.”
Jace Kerr, who was just 3 of 10 from the field the previous night, started the game with the hot hand. Kerr started the Bulldogs scoring with a three and had 11 points in the first four minutes of the game as the Bulldogs built a 17-3 lead.
“It was not the way we wanted to start,” Bobcats coach Clay Witt said. “The effort was there. Sometimes when you play somebody a little bit better or more polished than you, you have to do everything right. We didn’t and they did. We got a mad Forgan.”
Tyrone started to play much more competitive ball, but could never cut in to Forgan’s lead, because they always responded with a score. The two teams went back and forth with each team scoring 13, until Kerr hit his third three of the half to put Forgan up 33-16 at the break.
Kerr finished the half with 16 points, and was 6 of 6 from the field and 1 of 1 at the charity stripe. Jake Regier’s shooting struggles from the previous night carried over with 1 of 7 shooting and 2 points in the first half.
“We just talked about making the extra pass to get the best shot we could get,” Todd Kerr said. “During different stretches of a game you get guys with a hot hand and you want to try to continue to feed him. We had nine guys score tonight.”
Tyrone’s top scorers struggled in the first half, but in different ways. Payson Slater started the game 0 for his first 8 shots for four first-half points. Austin Olivas struggled to get touches in scoring position, and finished the half 2 of 3 for four points.
Both teams scored on their first two possessions of the second half. Forgan’s Todd Kerr called a timeout just two minutes into the third.
“Once we built our lead, I only felt one time in the game that my guys pulled back and I felt like I needed a timeout,” Todd Kerr said. “We just talked about how we have to respond each time to everything that happens. We shared the basketball, and that’s when were at our best. I didn’t think we did that Saturday night or play together like we should.”
Forgan scored three straight unanswered possessions to double the Bobcats up 42-21 midway through the third. It seemed to be the stretch that solidified that Forgan was going to put this game away, that there would be no big comeback.
“They were very good in the transition game,” Witt said. “Legs were a factor, and that’s a part of what you face when you come up through the loser’s bracket. We missed some shots that we normally make but that’s basketball sometimes. It happened to Forgan the previous night.”
Forgan finished out the third leading 54-30, then started the fourth with three consecutive 3-pointers to go up by 28 (65-37) midway through the fourth.
“Really pleased with the way we responded; all nine guys that played today gave a significant contribution somewhere in the game,” Todd Kerr said. “Anything we asked them to do they did a great.”
Forgan made 46 percent of their shots today, compared to just 25 percent in the previous day’s game.
Forgan’s Jace Kerr finished with a game-high 25 points; Jake Regier was 4 of 12 for 12 points, and Chandler Bryer and Kameron Hall each added 11.
Payson Slater led the Bobcats with 18 points, finishing 7 of 8 from the floor. Austin Olivas and Bryce Potter each added 6.
Forgan (26-2) moves on to the state tournament at State Fairgrounds Arena in Oklahoma City. The first round game will be played Thursday, most likely against No.4 Coyle, but the official state bracket has not been released.
Tyrone ends one of the best boys basketball seasons in school history with a record of 23-4.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this senior group,” Witt said. “They had the goal of making it to State and fell one game short, losing to the two-time defending state champions twice. As far as I know, Tyrone has never played in a game to go to state before. I thank the guys for all the hard work to get that far.”