By Matt Goisman
BROKEN BOW — The McAlester Buffaloes played flat enough in the first half to get coach Chris Zike shouting in frustration.
Whatever Zike told the Buffs at halftime, it worked.
Four Buffs scored at least 10 points, and McAlester used a 26-point third quarter to beat the Idabel Warriors, 64-48, Saturday at the Savage Classic in Broken Bow.
It was McAlester’s most lopsided win of the season, and the team’s best defensive performance since allowing 40 points against Hugo in its season-opener Dec. 3.
“I told them it was on them,” Zike said. “If they ever decide to figure it out and wanted to compete and play hard for the entire game, they have a chance to be pretty good. But if not, if they’re going to go out like they did in the first half and play the exact same way, it’s going to be a tight ballgame.”
Starting with Jalen Erving’s jump shot that tied the game 27-27, the Buffs opened the third quarter with a 22-4 run. Idabel couldn’t score on its next possession, then Erving got it to Todd Dawkins for another jumper and a 29-27 lead.
McAlester’s defense also improved in the second half, with a steal leading to Eli Boyle passing to Erving for a fastbreak layup. Erving scored 13 for the Buffs, including 6 in the third quarter.
“Our momentum, intensity, defense and communication, we picked them up,” Erving said.
“Second half, we come out and we competed as one team. We all had the same mindset, same intensity. Everyone was communicating.”
Idabel guard Demetrius Faulks’ jumper pulled the game to within 2, but on the Buffs’ next possession Dawkins found Keaton Slater under the basket for a layup.
Despite the strength of McAlester’s outside shooters, the Buffs took few 3-point shots during the game, with all four 3-pointers coming in the first half. Instead, the Buffs successfully used Slater, the tallest player on the court, to run an interior offense in which all of McAlester’s scorers repeatedly attacked the paint for layups or short-range jump shots.
Along with clearing space for his teammates to score, Slater scored 11 himself.
“Coach Zike told us coming into this game that they were going to be small,” Boyle said. “We have Keaton, he’s a monster, so we just knew that were going to get him the ball, and we were going to get him in the post and we were going to win from that.”
McAlester’s defense forced an Idabel turnover after Slater’s layup, then Boyle hit a jumper to make it 35-29 Buffs. The pattern then repeated itself, with the defense forcing another turnover and Boyle hitting another jumper for an 8-point lead.
Boyle led the Buffs with 14 points, all but 3 of which came in the second half.
“They were backing off, Boyle said. “I was able to get easy jumpers from the middle of the floor.”
Idabel missed its next shot following Boyle’s second jumper basket, then Dawkins found Slater under the basket for a layup and a 10-point lead. Erving drained a layup after an Idabel miss, then Boyle stole a pass and scored to make it 43-29 Buffs.
“When they went to their little half-court trap, the 1-3-1, their intensity went up, and ours kind of stayed the same, didn’t go up,” Idabel coach Jay Forshee said. “We weren’t quite sure where to be.”
DeVondre Sherman’s layup gave Idabel just its second basket of the quarter, but on the other end Dawkins scored and drew a foul. Dawkins missed his free throw, but Boyle grabbed the offensive rebound and scored it for a 4-point play that made it 47-31 Buffs.
McAlester went into the fourth quarter up 51-37, then outscored Idabel 13-11 in the fourth. Dawkins scored one of McAlester’s six baskets in the fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points.
McAlester trailed 27-25 heading into halftime. The Buffs turned the ball over too often in the first half to get into any offensive rhythm, and the Warriors missed too many shots to pull farther away.
GleOndric Threatt led the Warriors with 14. Along with its four double-digit scorers, McAlester also got at least one basket each from Jared Morgan (5 points), De’Angelo Rhone (4), Zach Baugh (3) and Jacob Derichsweiler (2).
“I’m just waiting for them to put that complete game together just like that,” Zike said. “And then when they do that, you better watch out.”
With the win, McAlester improved to 4-3. Idabel fell to 4-7.