McALESTER — Bitten too many times by 3-pointers in the first half, Frink-Chambers coach Lloyd Belt pushed his guards a bit farther towards the perimeter.
That slight defensive adjustment allowed the athletic Falcons to come back and win.
Frink-Chambers overcame an 8-point halftime deficit, eventually beating the Brushy Mountaineers 43-35 in the first-round of the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools Area Tournament on Saturday at Frink-Chambers in McAlester.
Frink-Chambers plays Woodall in the area championship tonight at 8 p.m. at Frink-Chambers. The winner of that game advances to the ORES state tournament.
“The defense, we turned it up that second half, and it made the difference in the ballgame,” Frink coach Lloyd Belt said.
“They hit some early 3s in the first half, and we were getting to those spots. Putting that pressure on them, they couldn’t hit the 3 anymore.”
Trailing 26-18 at halftime, the Falcons’ deeper defensive alignment produced immediate results, with guard Ryan Kelley stealing the ball, drawing a foul on the fastbreak and sinking both free throws. Rudy Fraire responded with a 3-pointer from Brushy, but Kelley later sank a free throw and then scored off another steal to make it 29-23 Brushy.
Jacob Amos shaved another point off the lead with a free throw, then Kelley again came up with a steal and laid it in to make it a 3-point game. Kelley finished with 13 points.
“I have some great athletes this year,” Belt said.
“That third quarter we turned it up speed-wise and got a lot of fastbreaks. I don’t think a lot of teams can keep up with our speed when we get out on the break.”
Frink forward Clayton Slater put back an offensive rebound on Frink’s next possession. Dillon Cheater (18 points) drained a 3-pointer for Brushy for a 32-28 lead, but the Mountaineers’ best shooter went cold after that, scoring no baskets and just one free throw through the rest of the game.