There was nothing flashy about what the Edmond Santa Fe boys did to beat Deer Creek. The Wolves defense rotated with a mission all game long, holding the Antlers to just 30 shots in 32 minutes of play for a 46-26 Santa Fe win.
“It’s a little different style but we’re okay with winning ugly,” Santa Fe head coach Troy Lallemand said after his team’s victory on Friday. “We’ll ugly it up and we’ve bought into that, and I really love those guys in that locker room. You see how other teams play and it would be easy to fall into that trap, but we’re doing what we have to do at Santa Fe to be successful.”
The defensive performance Santa Fe put together on Friday wasn’t a fluke. In their last nine games the Wolves have held their opponent to an average of 38 points — most of which have been their season lows.
“The kids are bought in, and as coaches we all have our ideals of ‘I’d love to be in man [defense]’ but, this is what’s helping our kids defensively,” Lallemand said. “We’re cutting our opponents points per game way down and it’s giving us a chance.”
Colby Onyekuru did it all in the first half, scoring eight points, nabbing two steals and bringing down multiple rebounds to help the Wolves to a 23-19 lead. The Antlers made more than half of their attempts (54%) but only got up 13 shots.
If holding Deer Creek to 19 first half points wasn’t enough, Santa Fe turned on the burners in the second half, allowing just seven points on 3-for-16 shooting the rest of the game.
In an age of basketball where sharpshooting and scoring is king, the Wolves are taking the road less traveled, using maximum effort on defense to stifle their opposition’s attack.
When asked what made his team want to play this way, coach Lallemand was truthful: “Honestly, out of necessity,” he said with a smile. “Offensively you can’t always count on the shot to fall, so we don’t have a choice. These are great kids, they’re athletic, they’re strong and we have to find a way to utilize our talent.”
Offensively, Onyekuru led the Wolves with 12 points, followed by Mike Reeves with 10 and Donovan Vickers with nine. Jerry Tullis led Deer Creek with 11 points.
Next up, the Wolves have a pair of top-ten matchups against No. 8 Norman North and inter-city rival No. 3 Edmond Memorial.
Vann goes for 32 in win over Wolves
Skylar Vann ripped the ball away from her opponent and lobbed a perfect pass to her teammate Bri Scott. Scott, streaking down the court, would go on to miss the bump with a defender in her face, but Vann was right behind her with an offensive board and put-back score.
The put-back was one of six offensive rebounds for Vann, who finished the night with 32 points for the Deer Creek Antlers in their 75-69 win over Edmond Santa Fe Friday night.
“Skylar is extremely versatile, she can shoot the three, she can drive, she goes in for offensive rebounds,” said head coach Alex Moorehead. “The basketball finds energy and she’s always moving.”
Time and again Vann was ready and waiting under the basket for her chance at an offensive board. She finished with six offensive rebounds on Friday, four of which yielded second-chance scores.
“We basically teach ‘assume it’s a miss,’” Moorehead said. “Whether it’s a layup, a 3: assume it’s a miss. We always have people crashing just in case.”
Van had 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first half alone, but the Antlers held just a five point lead. Santa Fe’s Shakira Patterson provided a spark off the bench, scoring nine points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first two quarters. She finished with 12 points.
Despite a strong night from several Antlers, Santa Fe fought tooth and nail, to keep it close until the very end. They trailed by just five at halftime.
Down 50-37, Santa Fe’s Madison Hill went on a hot streak to cut the lead to just two with around six minutes to play. Hill finished with a team-high 16 points.
With their lead at just two, Vann scored seven straight points to extend the Antlers lead and put the game out of reach.
Kaylee Nero and Brooklyn Long both added 10 points apiece for the Wolves. Bri Scott finished with 17 for the Antlers.