Another 3-pointer from Doyle put Kiowa back up by 1, then a pass from Tristian McMath to Brice Smith led to a layup and a 54-51 lead. But again Stites scored, this time off a pass from Jordan Smith, then Smith’s layup put Haileyville back up 55-54.
Two free throws from Brice Smith switched leads again, then his layup pushed the lead to 3. But on the opposite end, Haileyville guard Tristan Tiger (16 points) knocked down one of his four 3-pointers to tie the game, deflating Kiowa’s defense.
“If we’re down and it looks like we’ll need a 3, then I’ll just pull it up, regardless of if (the defender) is on me or not,” Tiger said. “But if Coach is telling us to hold the ball and pass it around, then I’ll just pass it.”
Stites and Brice Smith traded free throws to maintain the tie, but Stites then went back to the line and sank another for a 60-59 lead. Stites shot 6-for-9 at the foul line.
“The man-to-man plays, they couldn’t stop them,” Stites said, adding that the high-low post plays worked particularly well for the Warriors.
“Jason Mayo, he’s a killer at it. He can get it lobbed in there and get it to me.”
The Cowboys had plenty of chances to tie the game or retake the lead despite the short amount of time left in the game. But Doyle went 0-for-2 at the foul line — his second 0-for-2 in his final two trips to the line — missing badly and looking extremely frustrated.
Though Stites and Tiger both missed free throws in the final minute, Stites blocked Kiowa on the Cowboys’ second-to-last possession. Brice Smith missed on his last shot of the game, and though Caden Shores grabbed the rebound, he couldn’t score either and time ran out without a third shot.
“We didn’t do our part, and we missed some shots that we usually make,” Kiowa coach Keith Quaid said.
“Just give Haileyville the credit. They came out and punched us in the mouth and just beat our butts.”
Brice Smith led Kiowa with 21 points. The Cowboys play Crowder in the third-place game tonight at 8:30 p.m.
Contact Matt Goisman at Mgoisman@mcalesternews.com.