SKIATOOK – Both the promising potential and growing pains associated with Owasso’s youthful roster were on display Saturday night.
The Rams successfully battled back from a slow start against top-seed Edmond North in the semifinals of the Skiatook Invitational and, led by the efforts of junior Kyler Mann and sophomore Aaron Potter, held a six-point lead in the fourth quarter. But the Huskies rattled off 10 straight points as Owasso mustered just two points over the next six minutes and lost a heartbreaker, 57-55, inside the Brooks Walton Activity Center.
The loss, Owasso’s third defeat by three points or less, dropped the Rams to 3-5 on the season and into Saturday’s third place game against Webster. It also marked the first time since 2011 the Rams will not be in the tournament championship game.
“We kind of gave it away ourselves, a little bit. Take nothing away from Edmond North. They’re a really good basketball team,” Owasso coach Brian Montonati said. “…We told (the players) at halftime it’s a game like checkers and chess and what not because you’ve got to be able to execute. You’ve got to be able to take things away that they do well. But we’ve got to execute our stuff also. Unfortunately, the last two minutes we didn’t get the ball to where it needed to be and we had some broken down plays.”
The Rams used a strong second quarter to grab a 30-27 halftime lead.
Edmond North led by as many as seven late in the first quarter before the Huskies settled for a 16-10 advantage through the first eight minutes. Owasso countered with an 8-0 spurt to begin the second quarter, a run ignited by five straight points from reserve Caleb Leslie, a 3-pointer and two free throws.
The Huskies led 21-18 when Aaron Potter drove into the paint and found an open Kyler Mann for an easy bucket. Potter and Mann combined to score 10 straight as the Rams took the lead going into intermission.
Mann finished with a career-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Potter, whose availability was in question as he battled a stomach bug throughout the day, tallied 11 of his 13 points in the first half.
Caden Fry and Trenton Ellison knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter as Owasso stretched its lead to a game-high nine points at 48-39. Fry finished with eight points but was hampered by early foul trouble while Ellison’s trey was his lone basket of the night.
Edmond North followed with the decisive run as Joell Wilson and Landry Harris gave the Huskies the lead for good at 53-51 after consecutive 3-pointers with 4:15 remaining. Wilson, a junior reserve, paced the Huskies (8-3) with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Harris added 12 points as Edmond North connected on nine treys as a team.
Owasso will look to regroup when it concludes tournament play with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff Saturday against Webster, which suffered a triple overtime defeat against Broken Arrow in the other semifinal.
Montonati said despite the loss, he has continued to see the improvement since the start of the season from a team that has just three juniors and no seniors on the roster.
“We coach hard every day,” Montonati said. “These guys pay attention, want to get better. That’s why they’ve improved so much. They’re starring to get confidence, like they belong.”