YUKON – A new coach. A new collection of starters.
The drive for five continues for Douglass, as the Trojan rode their defense and a dominant fourth quarter to a 58-47 win over Elk City Friday at Yukon High School in the Class 4A state semifinals. At times it wasn’t the scoring spree and long-range bombing of Stevie Clark — the former Douglass standout who guided the Trojans to four consecutive state titles — but the Trojans are back in the fifth consecutive final on the backbone of their defense.
Forwards Trey Sanders and Deondre Clark — the only starter back for Douglass from last year’s title team — led the Trojans with 13 points. Before he even took the reins at Douglass this year, coach Kendal Cudjoe said he knew he’d had a talented team.
“This team with the exception of maybe two players was a JV team last year,” said Cudjoe, in his first year as Trojans head coach after coaching Northwest Classen last year. “People were talking about ‘Douglass is gonna be down,’ and I said ‘No they’re not. I’ve seen their JV team.’”
The scariest part? Douglass (21-4) left a ton of points on the board against the Elks. Thanks to missed layups and free throws, Douglass’ only breathing room came following a 14-0 surge in the fourth quarter.
Until then, the 17th-ranked Elks made Douglass sweat. The Trojans led 16-9 after the first quarter, but Elk City began to break the Douglass press in the second quarter, leading to an 18-3 run to close the first half.
Leading 29-28 at halftime on the strength of an 18-3 run to close the second quarter, the Elks had the momentum. But following a 3-pointer from Cameron Rogers to put Elk City up 44-43 in the fourth, the Trojans provided that game-capping run.
It was, again, paced by defense. The loose balls Destry Kelley (team-best 13 rebounds for Elk City) was corralling for the Elks in the first half started falling to Douglass in the second. Passing lanes closed. And Douglass got to running.
Sanders converted a 3-point play on one end, followed by a James Grimes mid-range jumper to push Douglass’ lead to 51-44. The Trojans added six more points in a row to stretch the lead to 13.
“I’m real proud of them to be on this kind of stage,” Cudjoe said. “To keep their composure the way they did especially.”
Six players had six points or more for the Trojans, with Antonio Wilson adding 11 for Douglass. Luke Lewallen led Elk City (20-7) with 21 points, including 11-of-13 from the line.