SAPULPA — Lawton MacArthur rode a third-quarter surge to escape Noble's upset bid, beating the Bears 55-44 Thursday in a Class 5A boys' quarterfinal at the Chieftain Center.
The Highlanders (18-8) won only their second state tournament game in school history, and the first since 1996.
“We played a great third quarter defensively, and we needed to, because they played a great first half defensively,” said Lawton MacArthur coach Kevin Harrington.
The Bears (14-14), making just their third-ever state tournament appearance — and their first in 18 years — jumped out to a 5-0 lead, and held a 24-23 advantage at halftime.
Lawton MacArthur (18-8) emerged from the locker room and outscored Noble 15-3 in the third quarter.
“I just felt like we picked up our defensive intensity,” said junior guard Trace Clark, who led Lawton MacArthur with 19 points. “We sped the game up a little bit and played hard. Things started flowing right and the game just took care of itself.”
The Bears rallied in the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, but couldn’t entirely close the gap.
“Noble really surprised us,” Harrington said. “They just played fantastic. They outplayed us the first half.
“We knew we had them speed-wise and things like that, but it seemed like they got every loose ball. My hat’s off to them.”
Lawton MacArthur advances to face Tulsa Memorial, which beat Carl Albert earlier Thursday, in the semifinals at Tulsa’s Mabee Center at noon Friday.
Noble was led by senior Devin Wheeler’s 19 points.
“It gives the younger kids an opportunity to see some success in the program, and actually have goals set for our younger kids coming up,” said Noble coach Kenny Smith.
“It’s huge. We hadn’t been here in 18 years. Hopefully it’s not so long before the next one.”