Purcell took the Madill Winter Classic basketball tournament by storm crowning champions in both the boys and girls brackets.
Coach Toney Cooper’s Dragons trailed Sulphur 30-26 heading into the fourth quarter of the tournament opener.
The Dragons stormed back to out-score Sulphur 17-6 in the final quarter thanks in large part to canning 10 of 15 free throw attempts.
Junior Jenna Avery nailed a trey in the final period. Senior KK Eck went 4-6 at the line in that quarter and had a pair of buckets from beyond the arc in the contest. She finished with 10 points.
Fellow senior Lauren Holmes led the Dragons in scoring with a dozen.
That fourth quarter spring boarded Purcell to a 61-8 semifinal blowout over Marietta and a 71-53 beat down of Dickson.
Sophomore Kenna Esparza erupted for seven three-pointers in the Dickson victory to lead all scorers with 23 points. She finished with 38 points in the tournament and was named the tourney’s MVP. Sophomore Ella Resendiz added 24 in the three day event followed by fellow sophomore Tinley Winters with 22.
“We wanted to finish this tournament off the way we started with strong defense,” Cooper said. “Along with solid defense we were able to knock down shots.” Kenna Esparza lead the way scoring wise. Joining her in double digits scoring were Tinley Winters, Haven Buchanan and Ella Resendiz. It was a great night offensively and defensively for our team. Perfect way to cap off an impressive performance by our girls in this tournament.”
“I’m extremely proud of our girls,” Cooper said. “From start to finish we got better with each opportunity.
“In the Sulphur game we started sluggish, but held them below 10 points in the second half to pull away. Both KK Eck and Lauren Holmes were instrumental in that win, they led us offensively and provided key stops defensively down the stretch to close out that game.”
The coach reported Holmes pulled down double digit rebounds giving the Dragons many extra possessions.
“Jenna Avery and Hannah Whitaker provided a much needed spark off the bench,” the coach said.
“Riding the defensive momentum to close out the Sulphur game, our girls put on one of the best defensive performances I have ever seen. Holding them to one point in the first half and only allowing seven the rest of the game. Kenna Esparza found her groove offensively, and Jenna Avery followed up her game one performance with another solid outing in this game. She made big plays on both ends of the floor,” Cooper said.
Roger Raper’s Dragons breezed past Sulphur 65-42 in the tournament opener fueled by senior Malachi Evans’ 28 points. He busted six treys in the contest and Purcell was 7-8 at the charity stripe as a team.
The Dragons burst to a 38-7 lead at halftime holding Sulphur to one point in the second quarter.
Purcell got off to a fast start in the semifinals leading the host Wildcats by a margin of 27-16 at halftime before posting a 43-37 verdict to move to the finals.
Sophomore Kobe Freeman led the Dragon offense with 18 points. He finished the three day run with 39 points behind Evans who poured in 46 in the three-day tournament.
In the Madill victory, Purcell was 20-27 as a team from the line.
In the finals Saturday night, the Dragons were solid in a 48-35 victory over Mount St. Mary. The game was knotted at 18-all when the two teams went to the halftime locker room but Purcell pulled away in the second half, out-scoring the Rockets 30-17. The tenacious Dragon defense held St. Mary to six fourth quarter points.
Freeman was named the tournament’s MVP while Evans was tabbed to the All-Tournament team.
Senior Hayden Ice scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. Freeman, who had a pair of buckets from downtown, was also in double figures with a dozen.
“It was an incredible week for our team,” Raper said. “We are improving each time out and that’s what I am looking at more than anything.
“We were down three players going into the tournament due to injury. That was a concern for sure, but our guys stepped up and carried the load,” the coach said.
“Brody Galyean and Malachi Evans were huge on the defensive end all weekend. Both had very tough assignments and I couldn’t have asked for better performances.
“Lincoln Eubank and Hayden Ice are starting to get back into rhythm and Kylen DeFreeze made his debut this weekend,” Raper said. “Brayden Tharp was very solid on both ends of the court .”
The Dragons have key conference road games this week at Pauls Valley on Tuesday and at Davis on Friday to close out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule.
“We need to continue playing solid defense as our offense continues to gel and improve,” Raper concluded.
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