‘Awesome’ feeling after Kingfisher rally
Bijan Cortes couldn’t wait for the clock to run out.
The Kingfisher senior leaped into the arms of his coach a couple seconds before the final buzzer sounded for a well-earned celebration after a 48-40 win over Heritage Hall in the Class 4A boys state championship game Saturday night at State Fair Arena.
About 10 game minutes earlier, top-ranked Kingfisher had been down by eight points, its hopes of a comeback flickering against a second-ranked Heritage Hall squad with all the momentum.
But Cortes made a 3-pointer, then assisted on another — shots that started a game-ending 20-4 run to give Kingfisher (25-1) its second title in three years.
“Another one, it feels awesome,” said Cortes, one of the state’s top players who outdueled another in Heritage Hall’s Trey Alexander. “Heritage Hall’s a great team and we always know when we play them, we’re gonna have to show out and play our hardest.”
Alexander, who has signed with Auburn, had 16 of his 18 points in the first half, but he and his teammates went cold down the stretch.
“They started missing shots,” Kingfisher coach Jared Reese said. “We felt really comfortable with the shots that they were getting. They just kept making them early. Once they started missing, and we got a few stops and got some confidence — and making free throws late was big for us, too — but that’s where we got our momentum.”
Cortes, an OU signee, had 23 points and Stone had 15, each going 4-of-4 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
But Maverick Ridenour was Kingfisher’s unsung hero. He made a pair of 3-pointers, including a huge one at the third-quarter buzzer when Kingfisher was just building its momentum.
And he switched with Stone, who was battling foul trouble, to defend Alexander in the second half.
“The neat thing about that, two years ago, Maverick didn’t get minutes because he wasn’t very good on defense,” Reese said. “Tonight we have him on one of the best players in the state, and he did a great job not letting him catch it and staying in front. We’re super-proud of him.”
Alexander finished with seven rebounds and four assists. Heritage Hall (21-6) also got eight points apiece from C.J. Smith and Sebastian Perry.
The Kingfisher seniors — consisting of Cortes, Stone, Ridenour, Ian Daugherty and Jarret Birdwell — finished their careers with two state titles and were part of the Yellowjackets being awarded the academic state championship on Saturday.
“A 107-4 career record,” Reese said of his seniors. “And to finish it with a state championship and an academic state championship, it just tells you how great kids these guys are.”