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By Glen Miller
EDMOND – In its last game before turning in records for postseason pairings, El Reno High School boys basketball coach Rodney Haydon felt his team needed to send a statement.
Consider one delivered.
El Reno schooled Deer Creek on the fine art of 3-point shooting for 16 minutes, then flipped the game plan for the final two periods en route to an eyebrow-raising 58-38 victory over the Antlers – ranked No.17 in Class 5A.
“We were thinking we needed a big game and that we had to come out and play hard,” said El Reno guard Justin Harris.
“We had to play. It was a very important game. Rankings go out after this game so we needed to get this win to look good in the rankings.”
The Indians, ranked No.11 in the same poll, improved to 11-7 on the year with its fourth straight victory, which led to a regular-season sweep of the Antlers. The road win was the first for El Reno in the series with Deer Creek in four years and pushed EHS to 6-4 in the Suburban Conference standings.
“You tell me,” said Haydon with a smile when asked if the win sent a statement. “I’ll let you write about that. Defensive-wise, we did a good job tonight. On offense we had a bunch of guys that hit shots. We never had that drought.”
El Reno set the tone early as Justin Harris buried a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Justin Brown and Bryon Elledge added a basket each before Kasey Gill ripped a trey from the left corner just inside the buzzer for a 13-7 lead.
The Indians kept up the perimeter pressure as Bailey Denny netted a trey from the top of the arc to open the second period. Elledge followed with a trey at the 5:21 mark before Christian Wassana’s (4:21) 3-pointer gave EHS six for the half and a 26-12 lead.
Deer Creek got it back to a 10-point game, 26-16, before Josh Bushyhead scored the last three points of the half for EHS. The post hit a free throw (1:50), followed by a wide-open layup off a skip pass from Brown with two seconds left to send EHS into the half leading 29-16.
Then came the switch on offense.
El Reno did not take a shot from the perimeter in the third period, instead attacking the interior for 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Seven of the eight baskets came from within the paint, four from Brown and three from Michael Jones.
The other basket, by Jones, came from just outside the free-throw line.
El Reno led 45-27 after three periods.
The lead hit 20 points on a basket off a 2-on-1 fast break by Harris to open the fourth period. Deer Creek cut the deficit to 16 points, before El Reno hit its lone outside shot of the second half by Harris with 5:02 left in the game.
El Reno, leading 51-32 after the trey, went back to the inside assault. Jones tacked on two baskets and Denny hit a third for a 57-36 lead. Elledge hit the back end of a two-shot trip to the free-throw line with 51.2 seconds left to secure the 20-point victory.
El Reno ended the game shooting 23-of-37 from the floor for 62.2 percent, which included a 7-of-14 effort from the perimeter.
“That’s not our offense, it was just something we drew up at the half and it worked. It was layup after layup,” said Haydon.
Brown flirted with a rare triple-double with a line of 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a blocked shot. Harris chipped in 11 points, two assists and two caroms.
Jones led El Reno in scoring with 16 points, five boards and three assists. Elledge added six points and two caroms, while Denny had five points and a carom.
Gill, Bushyhead and Wassana each had three points and combined for two rebounds. Sage Lamebull pulled down five rebounds.