In the middle of the third quarter, Carl Albert had scored just 13 points, yet trailed by 15, and coach Jay Price was preaching defense in the huddle.
The defense gave up only five points the rest of the game, the offense found just enough firepower for a late surge, and the third-ranked Titans rallied for a 34-33 home win over No. 7 Deer Creek on Friday night.
“You can't win if you don't get stops,” Price said. “They're knocking down everything, and we're making nothing. If you don't make defensive stops, you can't win.
“At the end of the third quarter, I told the guys we were gonna win this game. We got a little momentum, started to believe and things started to evolve.”
Carl Albert switched to a full-court press in the third quarter, which pushed the tempo of what had been a plodding, physical contest.
Deer Creek worked hard to take Carl Albert guard Cameron Warren out of his offensive game, but Warren didn't cave in. The 6-foot-3 senior kept looking for shots, getting a tough bucket inside, then the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.
“I knew I'd eventually make something after awhile,” Warren said with a smile. “They played good defense and kept me out of it.”
Warren finished with 12 as the only player for either team in double figures. Carl Albert's Hayden Howell had six points in his first game back from injury, including a big follow-up dunk that helped ignite the Titan rally.
WILLIAMS PUSHES PIEDMONT PAST EL RENO
Piedmont senior Adrion Williams took one step and then delivered an emphatic one-handed dunk with 6:22 remaining against fifth-ranked El Reno.
The dunk got the crowd into a frenzy, and it also gave the fourth-ranked Wildcats a 42-38 lead that would hold true the rest of the way in a 60-46 victory.