This week at the state tournament, it's win or go home. No second chances, no double-elimination.
But that's nothing new to Crooked Oak. The Ruf-Nex lost to Stroud in the first game of the playoffs back on Feb. 16, then won six straight games with their season on the line to get to state for the first time since 2004.
The Ruf-Nex were 9-15 after the 91-73 loss to Stroud in the district playoff opener. Two weeks later, they avenged that 18-point loss with a 57-44 victory over Stroud to earn their state berth.
“They've had four coaches in the last four years, so there's been no consistency,” coach Jay Means said. “I came in with a lot of tough love and discipline they're not used to. But they realized that they could be successful once they played within the system.”
Sophomore Sanardo Ballard saved the season with a game-tying buzzer-beater to force overtime against Lindsay, a game Crooked Oak ultimately won by 10.