Bryant, Commandos gain momentum
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Monday, February 25, 2013
2/25/13 at 3:49 AM
Cascia Hall remains alive in the Class 4A playoffs due to Saxon Bryant's heroics on Saturday.
Bryant's steal and tiebreaking layup with 0.7 seconds left gave the Commandos a 47-45 victory over Oologah in an elimination game at Webster's Bill Allen Field House. Bryce Carter scored 19 points and Bryant added 11 for Cascia (10-13), which advances to play host Webster (13-13) at 3 p.m. Monday for a berth in the area tournament.
It was a roller-coaster game as Cascia lost an early 14-point lead and trailed 39-33 in the fourth quarter.
Oologah spent the final two minutes trying to hold the ball for the last shot, but Bryant ruined that strategy. Cascia scouted Oologah's overtime win against Metro Christian on Friday and worked on that situation during a shootaround on Saturday morning.
"When they were running that much time off, we knew we could jump that, but it's really tough," Cascia coach Brian Rahilly said. "You want to be patient because you don't want your guys to gamble and take a misstep. We were just waiting for our time. He (Bryant) read it perfectly and when they came over to him and tried to go with that handoff, they put themselves at risk. He just read it and jumped it.
"Not only did he knock the ball away with four seconds to go, but to have the mindset to get to the rim with it was huge."
So how does Bryant, a 6-4 senior who leads Cascia with a 13.6 scoring average, rank that play with other career highlights?
"It's definitely up there with the shot that beat Holland Hall," Bryant said.
The 39-38 overtime victory over rival Holland Hall on Jan. 29 helped the Commandos build momentum that has enabled them to go 7-2 after a 3-11 start. That came five days after a 54-49 loss to 6A power Owasso.
"We played Owasso very close and that boosted our confidence," Bryant said. "We've played real well ever since."
Rahilly agrees it was a turning point.
"There are teams right now who know what they are and know what they are capable of, and some who still trying to figure themselves out," Rahilly said. "At some point during the season you want that moment when a team figures itself out. He (Bryant) actually said after the Owasso game, 'We didn't win but we found a way to defend people.' No truer words have been spoken. We've been able to get the stops we need and make the plays at the offensive end."
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393