By Brain Besch
Big Sandy is now area champions after defeating Woden 59-53 Thursday at Hudson High School.
The Eagles posed many problems, with an athletic group that shoots well. The game would come down to a battle of free throws. The Wildcats were up to the challenge, hitting 19-of-25 from the charity stripe.
"Honestly, I thought the game was going to be a little more up and down than it was," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. "Woden really presses a lot and likes to get out and run. They did that early, then they got out of it and really didn't go back to it until they had to.
"It really turned into kind of a half-court type of game. Those types of games can go either way. We just had one run where we were able to get the lead and hold on to it a little bit."
Leading the way for Big Sandy was Adrian Thompson with 14 points and Kaden Foster with 13. Also scoring 13 was Josiah Celestine, who came off the bench to provide a deep shooting threat with four 3-pointers.
"We need Josiah because he can really shoot the ball," Foster said. "Last game, it was a man and full-court pressure type of game. I had to have my better ball handlers out there, so he didn't really see a lot of action. I knew tonight that he was going to get more minutes. He made some big shots for us."
The Eagles spread their points amongst eight players, with Chance Lawson scoring 15 on five 3-pointers and Chandler Britton had 13 points.
"It is kind of a different guy for them every night," Foster said of preparing for Woden. "You really couldn't focus on one. They can shoot the ball really well and we knew that coming in."
Outscoring Woden 15-5 in the second quarter would have an impact on the outcome. With each squad in the bonus during the fourth period, free throw shooting was also key. The 'Cats were 12-for-16 at the line in the fourth. Woden was 7-for-11 in that same span, to keep the contest close.
"We've had times this year where we have struggled and we have lost games because we would go 7-for-21 from the line. Then we would have games where we were 16-for-19," the coach said. "I feel like lately our free throw shooting has gotten more consistent, which this is the time of year that you want it to be. I knew it was going to be a very physical game and both teams got in the double bonus in the second half."
The Wildcats will move on to play Garrison in the regional quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs are champions of District 22-2A and nabbed a win over Tenaha Thursday.