SKIATOOK — Playing in the state tournament for the first time in 33 years and playing without its head coach, Putnam West had its work cut out for it against Muskogee and veteran coach Terry Scott.
But the Patriots fought through, advancing with a 53-41 win over Muskogee on Thursday night at the Gary Johnson Activity Center.
Putnam West (17-11) will face the winner of tonight’s late game between Edmond Memorial and Midwest City at noon today in the semifinals.
Patriots head coach Tim Stogsdill was not on the bench for the game, as Ryan Wilkinson took over to coach Putnam West.
Wilkinson referred questions about Stogsdill to district spokesman Steve Lindley. Lindley, citing that Stogsdill’s absence was a personnel matter and subject to privacy, declined comment.
Stogsdill is expected to return to the bench today.
“He’s been coaching for 25 years and this is his first state tournament team so we wanted to make sure he was on the bench for the semifinals,” Wilkinson said.
The team learned that Stogsdill would not coach the game early in the week.
“We’ve faced adversity before,” Amric Fields said. “Coach (Wilkinson) just told us to keep our head.”
The Patriots were resilient, with Tyler Neal dominating early and Fields giving them a boost late to give West a win in its first appearance in the state tournament since 1977 and just its second ever.