As Kiowa’s players filed out of the locker room one-by-one following their 44-31 upset of Hollis on Friday in the Class A boys semifinals at State Fair Arena, an ear-splitting cheer went up from the Cowboys fans congregating on the concourse.
The players pumped their fists and raised their arms in celebration before going through a line of hugs and handshakes to make their way out of the throng.
Kiowa hasn’t been this far before and they’re going to enjoy every second of it.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kiowa coach Keith Quaid said. “This bunch, every time they stop on the floor they make history. The support has been unreal.”
Quaid’s No. 11 Cowboys gave the crowd plenty to cheer about against No. 5 Hollis.
Early on Kiowa built a lead with the help of the 3-pointer.
In the second half, they got to the bucket with regularity to extend the lead and put the game away.
Now, two days after winning the first state tournament game in school history in its fifth appearance, Kiowa will play for a title.
“It’s overwhelming coming in here as a sophomore,” Brice Smith said. “I didn’t know what to expect. But coach keeps us focused and keeps us believing. He’s crazy. He gets up pumped up but at the same time just trying to keep everything focused on 50 by 94 (the size of the court).”
The Cowboys (27-4) will take on No. 2 Glencoe at noon Saturday for the state championship. Glencoe is undefeated after winning the title last season.
Kiowa upset undefeated No. 1 Fort Cobb-Broxton in Thursday’s first round.
Quaid said he sensed a switch in his team midway through the season.
“They’ve overcome that mental hurdle,” Quaid said. “They believe they can do anything and that’s how they’re playing right now.”
Brycen Overton led the Cowboys with 14 points after hitting three first-half 3-pointers.
After halftime, Kiowa started driving to the rim.
“I told them at halftime that the dribble drive is going to be available because they are going to space out more to defend outside,” Quaid said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
Shay Calvert added 11 and Smith 10. Smith also added a game-high 12 rebounds.
T.J. Walker scored 10 to lead Hollis (20-4).