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 quarterfinal-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,” fifth-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 quarterfinal 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 semifinal 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 offers 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 difference, Chace McCaskill is not providing specifics.
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 first 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 first eight points and pushed its lead to five on four occasions in the second quarter before the Ruf-Nex got within two by halftime at 28-26.
Cue the fiery halftime pep talk? Maybe. Or perhaps it was the defensive pressure applied to Roland standout Peyton Whisenant, who burned the Ruf-Nex for 14 first-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 flipped the deficit 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 offensive rebounds. We had to get offensive 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 quarterfinals.
Metro Christian only allowed at most 10 points in a quarter as Hugo shot just 24% (12-of-50) from the field. The 34 points are the lowest Hugo (18-9) scored all season.
Darrington put in nine points in the first half for Metro Christian while Hugo’s Brown put in nine of his own, finishing the game with 15. But the biggest difference 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) offense just kept improving. Darrington weaved his way through traffic 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 final 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 quarterfinals 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 quarterfinals.