TULSA — Friday night, McAlester guards Jalen Erving and Todd Dawkins combined for 47 points. Saturday night, they combined for 21.
Pretty much everything that went right for the Buffaloes in the regional semifinals went wrong in the regional championship.
Helped out by dominant second and third quarters, the Bishop Kelley Comets won their region in explosive fashion, beating McAlester 81-42 at Bishop Kelley in Tulsa. McAlester allowed its second-most points of the season behind only a 90-87 overtime loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah on Dec. 17.
“Todd, No. 0, and Jalen, No. 24, they put on a show last night,” Comets guard J.D. Limes said. “We just couldn’t let them get started. And once we got stops on them, our defense led to our offense.”
A back-and-forth battle through the early minutes of the second quarter, the lead changed six times in Saturday’s game before Erving (13 points) scored a layup and then a free throw on back-to-back possessions to tie the game 16-16. But Sam Litzinger knocked down one of the Comets’ 12 3-pointers to put Bishop Kelley ahead, kickstarting a stretch in which the Comets outscored the Buffs 15-3.
After Litzinger’s basket, Matt Craig (18 points) drained a layup to push the Comets lead to 21-16. Erving went coast-to-coast for a layup that also netted him a foul and a free throw, but Craig hit a jump shot, then drew a foul and knocked down both free throws.
McAlester missed on its next possession, then Daniel Smith found Litzinger for another 3-pointer. Josh Limes later hit a 3 for Bishop Kelley for a 31-19 lead.
Austin Taylor put back an offensive rebound for the Buffs with one second left in the half to make it a 10-point game. And while players like Erving and Keaton Slater gave the Buffs some points early in the third, Comets forward Chase Irwin proved as difficult to guard in the paint as the Comets’ guards did on the perimeter.