ENID – Making it to the area tournament this season guaranteed that the Arapaho-Butler’s boys’ basketball team’s (18-11 overall) string of deep playoff runs would continue for another year.
However, a matchup against Shattuck (17-10) in the first round of area spelled the end of the 2018-2019 campaign Thursday night at the Enid Event Center. A-B led 25-19 at the half, but Shattuck wouldn’t go down. It rallied back to take an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
A-B made the long climb back to force overtime only to fall, 56-51, in the extra frame. A-B head coach Logan Rogers said his guys left everything out on the court. Despite facing elimination and big-game pressure, they performed well. It just didn’t come out in a win.
“I was proud of their effort once again,” he said. “They seem to embrace that pressure. Going into a big game, I felt like I never had to worry about them being ready to play with a lot of energy and effort. They always showed up to play, even though they’re young. Those pressure moments didn’t seem to effect that any.
“Shattuck is a tough matchup for us, especially without Zach (Carlisle). Anybody with a lot of strength inside and toughness inside, it hurt us missing him. He was our best one dealing with that. Again, our guys battled and just came up short.”
Rogers added that they defended well on Shat-tuck’s top two scorers but the third option beat them for a big night. In the loss, Ryan Carlisle shot the ball well to lead A-B in scoring with 19 points. Brett Griffith and Jace Edelen followed with 11 points each.
Leading scorer and rebounder, junior Edelen returns for next year as do the rest of the top seven players in the rotation. Sophomore point guard Ethan Pyron took major steps forward in year two on the floor, limiting the turnovers, while having the pressure on him to carry the load in breaking the press and playing within the offense.
Sophomore Nick Gass and freshman Ryan Carlisle gave the Indians sharpshooters from behind the arc that’ll be back for years to come. Freshman combo guard Brett Griffith proved he could command the offense with Pyron out and play in the shooting guard spot when both are on the floor.
Although he missed the second half of the season, junior Zach Carlisle will be back to solidify the Indians’ frontcourt adding strength down low next to Edelen. Sophomores Brock Walker and Wesley Flores furthered the team’s depth, giving the team quality minutes and effort any time they were on the floor.
Rogers said the way the group came together to become a quality ranked unit that played tough defense (42 points per game against) has him looking forward to next year.
“It is exciting,” he said, knowing the team put together a fantastic season with such a young core. Going through the year with those injuries, guys like Brock, Wes and Jackson (Hughes), which of course he is a senior and will be graduating, but those other guys will be back.
“I thought Brock and Wes off the bench looked a lot more comfortable the last couple weeks of the season – that’ll carry into next year and make us a lot deeper once everybody is healthy. Overall, I remember saying at the start of the year, I didn’t know if we were going to be able to defend anybody.
“Defense was my biggest worry and our toughness was a big worry of mine. I think the guys improved so much from the beginning of the year. They were a tougher team that communicated, which is a little thing no one thinks about…”
Speaking of Hughes, he played the final season of his high school career in 2018-2019. The lone senior of the bunch worked his way into the rotation and provided much-needed depth in the post before Carlisle broke his wrist. Once he was out, Hughes was prepared for an increase in minutes.
Hughes played in 21 games and typically kept the Indians ahead in those contests, averaging a plus-minus of plus-1.8 per game for the Indians. Rogers gave the senior high marks for staying and working despite not getting the minutes early in his career.