- By NICK HAMPTON Muskogee Phoenix
WARNER – In a low-scoring boys district title game, the Eagles (11-12) led most of the way, but Wildcat senior Brett Gwartney was a thorn in Warner’s side all night as he scored 21 of Chouteau’s 32 points including some NBA-range 3-pointers.
“That 24 (Gwartney) is really good and it was a chore trying to stop him,” said a happy Warner head coach Anthony Porter. “We tried to switch him off and double him and he still got open but down the stretch Jace (Jackson) did a good job on him and made it tough on him.
“The key to our win was defense. We play tight man-to-man defense, and we also got some big rebounds down the stretch.”
Chouteau’s only lead of the night was at the end of first quarter, 12-11. Neither team was stellar in the second quarter but the Eagles outscored Chouteau 9-3 to lead at intermission 20-15.
The second half would see Warner increase the lead only to have Chouteau (5-18) come back and cut it to a one or two points, the last being 34-32 Warner with 1:54 to play.
As in the girls game, Chouteau spent the next seconds giving up fouls to try and get the ball back until the Eagles worked the ball around inside to Brayden Terrell who hit a crib shot and was fouled to make it an old-fashioned three-point play and the 37 -32 final.
Gwartney, with Jackson guarding him tight, missed a pair of 3-point tries down the stretch and the Eagles escaped with the win.
Both teams advance to next week’s regionals at Colcord with the Eagles (11-12) playing the host #5 ranked Hornets (15-6) at 7:30 pm Thursday while the Wildcat (5-18) play Chelsea (13-10) in the consolation bracket.