featureChisum pulls away from Prairiland in second half of 66-50 home win
Chisum pulls away from Prairiland in second half of 66-50 home win

Chisum pulls away from Prairiland in second half of 66-50 home win

It seems as if each game between the Chisum Mustangs and Prairiland Patriots comes down to the wire for those who have kept up with the rivalry on the basketball court. However, the Mustangs kept their recent string of success against Prairiland intact, winning for the fourth time in the teams’ last five matchups. After a tightly-contested first half, the Mustangs (16-5, 5-3) cranked up the intensity and pulled away from the Patriots (12-8, 3-5) in the 66-50 win in Mustang Gymnasium on Tuesday night.

“Every game in this district is going to be tough and a battle,” Mustangs head basketball coach Brian Temple said. “Prairiland is a well-coached team and they play extremely hard. When you have those two things going for Prairiland, we knew they were going to give us a battle. They did just that, so hats off to Coach (Steven) Weddle and those kids because they play their butts off every single night.”

“It was a rivalry game with a big crowd, which makes it a lot more difficult,” Chisum junior guard Keaston Lawrence said. “I just treated it like any other game and went at it the same. We’re going to look at it the same way with Rains the next game — just push harder and focus up.”

The first half featured 15 ties or lead changes and neither team took a lead greater than five points during that span. For Prairiland, everything was in stereo with its game plan.

“I feel like our game plan was spot on. We led for much of the second quarter and it was a two-possession game after they (Chisum) had a little spurt at the end of the half,” Patriots head coach Steven Weddle said. “Something happened in the third quarter and, I don’t know, maybe we went to sleep at the half. That was not us and we discussed that.”

However, Chisum knew what it had to do to begin to pull away in the final two quarters. At first, the defense did not provide much resistance to Prairiland’s offensive attack. First and foremost, Chisum knew it had to get things cleaned up.

“Our defense had gotten a little sloppy, the energy was down, and I just knew we had to bring it up,” Lawrence said. “I tried to get the ball to my teammates and kept pushing the pace to try to get better shots. We finally got the lead and we didn’t look back from there.”

Once the Mustangs began to increase their output on defense, their fortunes turned around. Temple said he implored his team to step up the effort on their rotations, close-outs, rim protection, and rebounding. With that, the offense came around, too, which was at its best through the dribble penetration from Lawrence and junior guard Worm Price.

“Talking about Keaston and Worm, those two kids can get inside at will when they want to,” Temple said. “When our offense looked stagnant at times and we weren’t doing a very good job of moving the ball around. When you move the ball and swing it quickly, that’s what creates those attacking opportunities when the defense is closing out hard on you. I think a lot of the layups came from picking it up on the defensive end. Defense leads to the offense for us and when we got the rebounds, we were able to push it more in the second half, which was big for us.”

Chisum came out of the gates strong to open the third quarter. After Lawrence opened the first with a 3-pointer and Prairiland senior Blake Ballard canned a long ball to open the second quarter, the Mustangs got the engines started in a different way in the third. Price took over in the third quarter. The junior distributed and scored the ball at will as he helped Chisum turn a 31-26 halftime advantage into a more comfortable 47-35 lead at the end of the quarter. His energy was contagious to his teammates as well. Sophomore marksman Espn Blyton splashed two big 3-pointers in the second half, and, overall, the Mustangs scored 55 of their 66 points after sitting tied at 11-11 with Prairiland after the first quarter.

Price led Chisum with 16 points while Lawrence scored 15 points. Evan Wood finished with 11 points while Jett Petkus added 9 points. Blyton had 6 points while Levi Weems recorded 5 points. Rylan Boutwell and Kason Merritt chipped in with 2 points apiece.

Gage Bankhead led Prairiland with 11 points while Ballard scored 10 points. Jeremiah Harrison finished with 7 points and Eli Rolen contributed with 6 points. Seniors Ryan Butler and Brylee Galloway each poured in 5 points while Brooks Morrison scored 4 points and recorded several blocks. Braydan Nichols chipped in with 2 points.

As the second half of district play rolls on, Temple was encouraged by his team’s depth and his players’ ability to step in and step up when they’re called upon.

“I think a win like this is good for us,” Temple said. “What I like to see is when Evan went down, we had guys step up off the bench. Espn Blyton came off the bench for us and shot the mess out of the basketball. Like I was telling them at the end of the game, basketball is a team game for a reason. Evan went down and we didn’t miss a beat and it seemed like we picked up the intensity after that even considering that he is one of our best players.”

Prairiland’s backs are now against the wall following the loss. With the defeat, the Patriots must win three of their next four games to qualify for the postseason, but Weddle will be the last to count his guys out.

“Next step is Lone Oak. It’s senior night and we’ve got to take care of that one,” Weddle said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where we have to win three of the next four to get in the playoffs. I explained that it’s there to take. We’ve already beaten two of the four teams. Of course, Commerce is tough but then we will have to get Edgewood at our place, but they’re coming to our place and we’ve played pretty well at home.”

Both teams will play again at 6:15 p.m. Friday night. The Mustangs will play on the road at Emory Rains while the Patriots will host Lone Oak for senior night. For more sports coverage, click here.

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