Putnam City West coach Lenny Bert wishes Saturday night had been March 15, instead of early January, but he'll take the Patriots' 52-47 win over No. 1 Tulsa Union just the same.
Sixth-ranked PC West got 13 points from sophomore Marquis Johnson and 12 from tournament MVP Tyson Jolly in handing Union its first loss of the season in the finals of the Putnam City Invitational at PC West.
The Patriots (11-2) were able to nullify Union's size advantage with active pressure defense.
“We gained confidence from going out of state and playing some teams that are even bigger than Union,” Bert said. “We felt from the start that we were the best team. But they're really good, and we're probably gonna see them again in March.”
Union led late in the third quarter, and got as close as four points in the final minutes, but PC West came through with enough plays to hold on for its second tournament title of the year.
“We started locking up defensively, and that's when we started running and hitting shots, just playing PC West basketball,” Jolly said. “We know if we box out and rebound, we're the best team in the state.”
Though he was six inches shorter than anyone on the Union roster, the 5-foot-7 Johnson came up clutch in several situations for PC West. The sophomore hit three big free throws early in the fourth quarter, and was tough on defense, guarding 6-foot-2 Alex Barton much of the night.
“He looks like a little 12-year-old out there,” Bert said with a laugh. “Big free throws, big shots. His defense was great. He's been thrown in the fire, and now he's getting more consistent. I love it.
“We've just got to build off this and go into conference play with some big games coming up, just get back to grinding it out.”
Lienhard hits winner for McGuinness
McGuinness junior Will Lienhard hit a 10-foot jumper as time expired to give the Irish a 41-39 win over Norman North and the title at the 54th annual McGuinness Classic.
Lienhard, a 6-foot-8 center, was named tournament MVP, finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots in the game.
The Irish trailed by eight points at halftime, but rallied with solid defense, allowing only four points in the third quarter.
Sophomore Lindy Waters led Norman North with 20 points.
Millwood takes Bethany title
Ashford Golden scored 14 points and Millwood held off a rally from Western Heights for a 59-52 win in the Bethany Classic.
Cameron Batson chipped in 11 points for Millwood, and Michael Mays had 10. Gerard Giles scored a game-high 19 points for Western Heights.
Dante Butler of Moore scored 17 points as the Lions topped Lawton 55-44 to win the Chickasha Classic. ... Jace Sternberger had 23 points as Kingfisher rallied from 14 down to defeat Alva 63-48 in the finals of the Wheat Capital Tournament at Chisholm.