WILBURTON — The Hartshorne Miners couldn’t sink a perimeter shot, and oftentimes they couldn’t even hit the rim.
With the Miners’ outside-shooting ineffective, they turned to the paint.
Trey Medicine Bear and Isaiah Osife combined for 26 points — almost all of which came on shots within 10 feet of the basket — helping the Miners spoil Friday’s Homecoming game in Wilburton, 55-42.
“We found a way to get to the rim,” Hartshorne coach Jeff Beare said.
“We’ve taken it upon ourselves that we want to get to the rim. Our 3 (pointer) needs to be our second option.”
The Miners switched from a half-court defense to a full-court press to start the second half. The strategy didn’t work in the third, with the Diggers’ scoring 15 points in their highest-scoring quarter of the game.
Hartshorne stuck with its press, and it paid dividends in the fourth, with the Miners forcing turnovers on five consecutive Wilburton possessions.
Though Hartshorne’s first steal couldn’t produce points, Medicine Bear picked off the next Wilburton pass and found Osife for a layup. Medicine
Bear’s second steal led to Troy Ray scoring off an offensive rebound, and Medicine Bear’s third led to Ryan Reddick’s layup and a 42-32 lead with about five minutes left in the game.
“I wanted to try to win without it, but I felt like we needed to just get that pressure, try to get that momentum that we needed,” Beare said of his fullcourt press.
“We line up our press according to who’s shooting the free throw. We kind of got lucky in those situations where Trey (Medicine Bear) was the one who was back.”
Medicine Bear, a freshman, also appeared to be physically stronger than anyone on Wilburton’s roster, simply overpowering defenders in his drives to the basket. Medicine Bear scored 12 for the Miners, his layup off a pass from Osife putting Hartshorne up 44-32 with 3:30 left in the fourth.
“Our defense has really picked up, and we’re starting to push the ball down the floor,” Medicine Bear said.
“They were pretty tight on us. Our coaches have been telling us we need to get to the hole, because that’s what our team does.”
Cody Arnold got 2 points back with free throws, but Hartshorne guard Brett Akins did the same on the opposite end. Wilburton turned over its next possession, then Osife sank two free throws to push the lead to 14.
Osife led his team with 14 points. Hartshorne as a team shot 19-for-29 at the foul line, while Wilburton shot 8-for-13.
“Our shots weren’t going down, so we had to find another way to score,” Osife said. “After that, driving was our only option to win this game.”
Hartshorne led by as many as 12 points in the first half, a steal by Medicine Bear leading to a fullcourt pass and a layup by Tyler Lindley for a 24-15 lead late in the second quarter. But Emanual Mercado answered with a layup, then Wilburton opened the third quarter with Jonathan Fite hitting a jump shot.
Cody Arnold’s layup made it a 3-point game, but Osife knocked down a jump shot. Osife then scored off an offensive rebound, drew a foul and sank the free throw to push the lead to 29-21.
Arnold answered again with a layup, but Lindley scored again for Hartshorne. Wilburton then went on a 9-0 run, beginning with Mikey Gauzdausky scoring on a fastbreak.
Hartshorne got called for traveling on its next possession, then Arnold went to the line and shot 1-for-2. Hartshorne couldn’t score on its next two possessions, then Arnold again got back to the line and shot 2-for-2 to make it 31-28 Hartshorne.
Arnold scored 24 for Wilburton.
“He’s been our leading scorer all year,” Wilburton coach Shawn Hooker said of Arnold. “He’s a tough kid. He’s learned how to play. I can’t say enough about him.”
Levi Easley hit a jump shot for the Diggers, then Wilburton took its first lead since early in the first when Hartshorne turned the ball over and Gauzdausky converted the fastbreak opportunity into a layup that put Wilburton up 32-31.
Medicine Bear tied the game with a free throw, then hit a layup late in the third for a 34-32 lead. Hartshorne led the entire fourth quarter.
“Fourth quarter, we just didn’t execute,” Hooker said. He added, “They’re physically stronger than we are.”
With the win, Hartshorne improve to 13-4. Wilburton fell to 6-14.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.