By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
The Bacone Warriors were looking make a statement, coming off a 71-64 loss to McPherson College last Thursday to open the season.
Charles Gordon led a quartet of Warriors with 20 points as the Warriors beat Rhema Bible College 90-65 to improve to 1-1.
“This was a good win for us,” said Bacone coach Alan Foster. “They came out early and made some shots. We made some adjustments on their two shooters and then really just dug in.”
Rhema’s two shooters that Foster was referring to are Fort Gibson exes Kasey Byrd and Dewayne Foster who finished with 23 and 19 points respectively and were the only Eagles to finish in double figures..
“Early on, they had a big man guarding me and he backed off,” Byrd said. “When he did that, I just took the shot.”
After Byrd paced the Eagles with 15 first-half points, Foster poured in 11 in the second half and was very excited to return home to play in front of FGHS coach Gary Hendrix, who was in attendance.
“It felt great to play in front of my family and former coach,” he said. “I am also proud of Kasey and the night he had.”
Gordon, who was 7-of-14 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, knew defense and rebounding was very key to the Warriors prevailing. The Warriors had a 45-35 rebounding advantage.
“We weren’t closing out on their shooters,” Gordon said. “They were making big and tough shots and the main adjustment we had to make was on our defense. We needed to depend on our help defense instead of sagging off”
The Eagles opened the game with an 11-2 run on the strength of Byrd’s 3-for-3 from the three-point line. Byrd finished 5 of 11 from beyond the stripe.
The Warriors began to chip away and when Alex Stanley got a put-bucket with 11:40 left in the half, Bacone had its first lead of the game at 17-16. Stanley and Kwame Bates finished the night with 15 points each while Sean Cooper tossed in 11 points to round out the four double-figure scorers for the Warriors.
“Defensively, we played a good game although they got out to a good start,” Foster said. “Offensively, it wasn’t always pretty and textbook at times but we made shots when we needed to and we did a really good job on rebounds.”
The second half started out very similar to the first as Rhema came out of the break with a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 47-45 with 17: 58 remaining. After Foster called a timeout, Nathan Roach drove the lane for two of his five points to spark a 19-7 run to put Bacone in command at 66-52 with 12:33 left in the contest.
Bacone kept pushing the tempo and gained a 20-point lead at 75-55 lead with nine minutes remaining after Brett Palmer broke away with a steal and an uncontested layup.
“We wanted to play hard and we knew the crowd might get us too excited in the first half,” Foster said. “We were trying to make ESPN plays instead of basketball plays. We settled and started making basketball plays in the second half.”
Gordon was well aware that while this was a good win to start the home season, it was just the second game of the season.
“We just got to keep getting better,” he said. We still have a long way to go.”