The Oklahoman

Millwood set for semifinal showdown vs. Crooked Oak


Douglas Miles and James D. Jackson

The names and faces may change, but the consistenc­y remains remarkable.

Since 1984, the Millwood boys’ basketball team has played in 26 quarterfinal-round games at the state tournament.

The Falcons have prevailed and advanced all 26 times.

“(Former Millwood Coach) Varryl Franklin left a legacy and I am just trying to do what I can to keep the legacy going,” fifth-year Millwood Coach Michael Jeffries said after the second-ranked Falcons defeated No. 10, Lindsay, 63-51. “We are just blessed to be able to have solid athletes and guys that buy into what we are doing and stay focused with what they are doing. They are good kids that trust in us and trust in each other.”

Millwood’s overall record in state quarterfinal games is an astounding 34-1. Its lone loss in the opening round was against Idabel in 1984. The Falcons will play No. 8 Crooked Oak (25-3) in a 3A state semifinal Friday at 9 a.m. at the State Fairground­s.

“It is going to take dedication, overcoming adversity and staying connected as a team,” Millwood sophomore Jaden Nickens said. “Right now, we are staying at our school inside our facility so we can be together. ... We are staying together, trying to stay around each other. It’s a brotherhoo­d. It is all we need.”

Nickens was sensationa­l in a second quarter that allowed the Falcons to separate from Lindsay. The multisport standout – who already holds football scholarshi­p offers from schools like Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Tulsa – scored a whopping 18 of his game-high 20 points in a second frame that saw the Millwood lead balloon from two points to 34-19 at halftime.

“My mindset going into that second quarter was just, ‘Time to take over,’” Nickens said. “I knew my team needed me to score at that moment, so when I got hot, I got hot and got going.”

Crooked Oak 62, Roland 46

If a rousing halftime speech made the difference, Chace McCaskill is not providing specifics.

After all, there’s another game to be won on Friday.

“I’m not going to give you any secrets, I’m going to use them tomorrow,” McCaskill said with a laugh. “Whatever secrets we’ve got, we’re going to use them.”

If the talent and abilities of the Crooked Oak boys’ basketball team was a secret to anyone at all, it’s out now after the eighth-ranked Ruf-Nex – just four years removed from a 3-18 season – won a state tournament game for the first time since 1975 by vanquishin­g No. 4 Roland, 62-46.

Early on, Crooked Oak looked like a bunch that had not been to the state tournament in a decade. Roland sprinted out with six of the game’s first eight points and pushed its lead to five on four occasions in the second quarter before the Ruf-Nex got within two by halftime at 28-26.

Cue the fiery halftime pep talk? Maybe. Or perhaps it was the defensive pressure applied to Roland standout Peyton Whisenant, who burned the Ruf-Nex for 14 first-half points.

The strategy paid off. Whisenant was held scoreless after halftime as Crooked Oak charged out of the locker room with a 25-9 explosion that flipped the deficit to a 51-37 lead for the Ruf-Nex midway through the fourth quarter.

“We kept our head up,” said Ty Adkins-Freeman, who added 18 points to what is already the school record for career points at over 2,400. “They were killing on offensive rebounds. We had to get offensive rebounds and limit them to one shot.”

Hill – who will play college football at Central Oklahoma – led all players with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore Elijah Garcia added 13 points.

Tulsa Metro Christian 66, Hugo 34

Tulsa Metro Christian used its stout defense to rout Hugo 66-34 in the state quarterfinals.

Metro Christian only allowed at most 10 points in a quarter as Hugo shot just 24% (12-of-50) from the field. The 34 points are the lowest Hugo (18-9) scored all season.

Darrington put in nine points in the first half for Metro Christian while Hugo’s Brown put in nine of his own, finishing the game with 15. But the biggest difference was the second quarter where Metro Christian held Hugo to just four points and Metro Christian entered halftime with a 15-point lead.

From there, Metro Christian’s (24-2) offense just kept improving. Darrington weaved his way through traffic making a euro-step layup. Wyatt Powell converted an and-1 after spinning his way to the lane and Jackson Sowards consistent­ly scored at the rim. Metro Christian scored more points in each of the quarters.

Darrington led the way with 13 points.

Prague 63, Sequoyah Claremore 45

Blestin Miller just stood in the moment with a smirk on his face.

The star guard from Prague had just knocked down another 3-pointer, which led to a Sequoyah Claremore timeout. At that point, he just knew he couldn’t be stopped.

In the final minutes of the second quarter, Miller had led Prague on a 9-0 run to break away from Sequoyah Claremore. It proved to be a big momentum swing in the game.

The big second-quarter push helped Prague best Sequoyah Claremore 63-45 in the state quarterfinals on Thursday. Miller led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds to lead Prague to its second state tournament win in school history. Prague’s last tournament win came in 1995 when the Red Devils took down Calera 73-67 in the Class 2A quarterfinals.

 ?? SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? Millwood's Jaden Nickens goes to the basket in between Lindsay's Ty Ferguson (10) and Andon Register (24).
SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN Millwood's Jaden Nickens goes to the basket in between Lindsay's Ty Ferguson (10) and Andon Register (24).

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