By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
OKLAHOMA CITY—An overwhelmed Todd Kerr struggled to wrap his mind around what he had been a part of over the past four seasons. For the third time in four seasons the Forgan Bulldogs claimed the Class B state championship with a 77-69 win over Lookeba-Sickles.
“Its hard for me to fathom, and to have my kid on the team it's just been unbelievable,” Bulldogs coach Todd Kerr said. “Who can imagine this. I'm truly a blessed man.”
Before the game players from the 2011 and 2012 championship teams addressed the team. Also in the locker room were wide-eyed grade school players to hear what they had to say as well.
Forgan then went out and played like a championship team, by grinding out a win even while injuries limited some of their top players' playing time.
“It's been a different guy stepping up every night,” Kerr said. “Every guy has played their part and that's what makes it so special. The whole commitment of the whole bunch is why we got here.”
Jace Kerr, the teams leading scorer, was hampered by an ankle injury that occurred the first night of the tournament. Chandler Bryer, the Bulldogs point guard and second leading scorer, had to miss crucial minutes after taking an unintentional knee to the nose that forced him to have to leave the game several times to change what ended up to be very part of his uniform because it had blood on it.
“He's gritty and tough and leads us that way,” Kerr said about Bryer. “His tenacity is unbelievable.”
Lookeba-Sickles cut the Forgan lead to just four point with a couple of baskets to start the second half, but Forgan answered with a 9-0 run that was capped by a 3-point play by Jace Kerr to put the the Bulldogs up 50-37 with 3:46 left in the third.
“That was a key stretch for us,” Kerr said.”It wasn't easy, but they're not supposed to be.”
Lookeba-Sickles did not go away. Back to back threes and nine straight points by the Panthers' Connor Karpe (22 points), who is a first cousin of Forgan's Chandler Bryer, cut the Bulldogs lead back to seven.
Trevin Lopez' put back basket ended the third with Forgan up 58-49.
The Bulldogs were able to push the lead back to 14 early in the fourth. Lookeba-Sickles hit three treys to cut it back to seven again with 3:31 left. But Forgan made 8 of their last 11 free throws down the stretch to keep their distance.
For the game, Forgan shot 61 percent from the field, was 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, and made 18 of 29 free throws. Lookeba-Sickles shot 47 percent from the field, was 10 of 22 from 3-point range, and 5 of 8 at the free throw line.
Jace Kerr finished the game 8 of 11 from the field and 7 of 10 at the line for 23 points, and grabbed 9 boards. Trevin Lopez finished 8 of 14 for 20 points and had 5 rebounds. Chandler Bryer finished with 15 points. Bryer was 5 of 10 from the field and 4 of 5 at the line. Demetrius Alston scored 13 and grabbed 10 boards.
In the first quarter, Forgan went on a 7-0 lead to take an 11-4 advantage. Lookeba-Sickles answered right back with an 11-2 run to take the lead 15-13 with 26.5 second left in the first quarter.
Lopez scored with 4 seconds to knot the game at 15 at the end of the first period.
An 11-2 run midway through the second quarter that included a 'circus shot' by Bryer gave Forgan an 11-point cushion with 3:20 until half. Forgan led 41-33 at the break.
Forgan finishes the season with a 29-1 record. The three seniors Jace Kerr, Trevin Lopez, and Luis Ordonez finish their high school careers with an astonishing 111-7 record over their four years.