Southeast is out to show that it is one of the best boys basketball teams in Class 5A, and Friday's win over No. 3 Coweta certainly helped the Spartans' case.
Seventh-ranked Southeast used the strong inside game of Rashawn Thomas and multiple outside shooters for a 58-50 victory in the semifinals of the Shawnee Shootout.
Thomas, an athletic 6-foot-7 forward, fought hard for his 17 points and threw down a backboard-rattling dunk in the fourth quarter as the Spartans put the game away.
“To come in as underdogs and beat them is good for us,” Thomas said. “We feel we have something to prove, and people think we aren't as good as we really are. We're on a win streak right now, and we want to keep it going.”
Southeast has won nine straight games while establishing itself as a 5A contender.
On the season, Southeast is 15-4, with only one loss coming against in-state competition, that a November defeat at Stillwater.
In the final, the Spartans will face an upstart Norman North squad that has quickly melded several new players together with returners. Payton Prince, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored 21 points to lift the No. 18 Timberwolves to a 76-62 win over seventh-ranked Stillwater.
Prince is one of the returning players who has been joined by three new starters, including two freshmen.
“We believed we could be one of the best teams in Oklahoma,” Prince said. “It took some time to get all these new guys together. We have two freshmen, so we're always communicating with them and letting them know that they're just like the rest of us.”
Southeast and Norman North will square off at 8 p.m. Saturday in the final at Shawnee.
ZONE HELPS CARL ALBERT ADVANCE
Carl Albert hadn't run much zone defense before Friday night's semifinals of the Titan Classic against Putnam City West.
But Titans coach Jay Price thought his team needed to use it against Omega Harris and the Patriots.
It worked, as Harris got his points, but Carl Albert largely held the rest of the team in check in a 72-67 win.
“I think we caught them off-guard a bit there with the full-court press back into a zone,” Price said. “And we rebounded well out of it.”
Carl Albert outrebounded the Patriots 36-29.
Carl Albert built the lead quickly, taking control with an 11-0 run that stretched more than five minutes over the first and second quarters.
The Titans led by 18 with just more than three minutes remaining in the first half, but Putnam West closed the half with a 10-2 run to climb back into the game.
The Patriots pulled within five early in the third quarter, but the Titans extended the lead back to double digits by the end of the third.
Harris had 31, 21 in the first and fourth quarters combined.
Carl Albert's attack was much more balanced as four starters finished with at least 14 points. Malik Barnett and Javeion Gray had 17 each, Jared Price added 15 and Cameron Warren 14 in the win.
The Titans will face the OKC Storm in the championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday. The Storm got 25 points from Kole Talbott in a 63-55 win over Tulsa Central.
MUSTANG TOPS PC NORTH
Mustang lost to Putnam City North in the first game of the season, but the Broncos have now avenged that defeat three times over.
Mustang won its third of four meetings with the Panthers, this time 61-53 in the semifinals of Deer Creek's Bruce Gray Invitational.
Senior guard Garrett Goble had 20 points, and sophomore Terrell Williams had 19 as the Broncos advanced to Saturday's championship game, where they will face No. 2 Edmond Memorial.
Memorial advanced with a 79-38 win over Northeast behind 17 points from Aaron Young and 14 from Shaquille Morris.
BLUMENTHAL POURS IN 52
Deer Creek coach Matt Bailey says Joel Blumenthal has put the young Antlers squad on his back in recent games, none more so than Friday night.
Blumenthal, a senior guard, scored 52 points in a 69-66 win over Yukon to advance the Antlers to the consolation finals of the Bruce Gray Invitational. In three games this week, Blumenthal is averaging 40 per game.
Friday's 52-point outing is believed to be a Deer Creek single-game record.
FOSTER BOOSTS PIEDMONT
Christian Foster's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Piedmont a 65-62 win over Okarche in the semifinals of the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Invitational in Kingfisher.
Kendall Franklin led Piedmont with 19 points, while Foster had 16 and Adrion Williams had 15, offsetting a 31-point game by Okarche's Sam Grellner.
Piedmont will meet Bethany in the title game Saturday. The Bronchos won behind 26 points from Tanner Stiles, defeating Heritage Hall 51-46.
GRANT, CHA TO MEET IN FINALS
U.S. Grant's Jose Gutierrez had 24 points to lift the Generals to a 50-44 win over Plainview and into the finals of the Little Axe Invitational. Grant will face Christian Heritage, which got 18 points from Colton Lindsey in a 55-39 win over Harding Prep, in the final.
John Jones made a 30-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Jenks a 56-55 win over Edmond Santa Fe. ... All six McGuinness scorers had at least seven points in a 59-45 win over Capitol Hill.