Gold Ball dreams dashed: Hooker falls by one in state semifinals

Staff Writer

Compiled by Shawn Yorks
gdhsport@gmail.com

YUKON - One point.
One point is all that stood between the Hooker Bulldogs and a chance to play for the state championship tonight at Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City. But the Latta Panthers will play for the gold ball after holding off another furious Bulldog rally to win, 42-41, Friday night.
The Dogs trailed by seven with 1:32 to go after leading 21-16 at halftime.
The rally began after Dawson Metcalf got the steal and hoop to cut it to five. Latta’s Elijah Factor hit a free throw with 1:10 to go to make it a 6-point Panther lead. But it would be Latta’s last point of the night.
Ethan Parson’s nailed a three with 50 seconds left to cut it to 42-39 then, after Trent Smith missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, Tate Cathcart drove in for the score with 20 seconds left to cut it to one, but missed the free throw to tie it.
Latta went to the line with 2 seconds left, missed two free throws and Hooker called timeout with 1.4 seconds left. The inbounds lob pass was intercepted, and Hooker’s season came to an end.
The Bulldogs finish 26-2 and ranked No. 3 in the state. No. 2 Latta will look to repeat as state champions, tonight at 9:15 p.m.
The Bulldogs were dominant in the first half, with a swarming defense that didn’t allow Latta’s shooters to get any separation to take their shots.
The Panthers led 4-0 right out of the gate, but a Parsons three and a Metcalf basket off a Tanner McBee steal gave Hooker the lead 5-4. The lead exchanged hands four times before the Bulldogs settled into an 11-10 lead at the end of the first.
Two Parsons steals to start the second quarter didn’t lead to points, and Latta went up 13-11. Karder Neville tied it and Metcalf tied it again before Neville got the steal and fed to Metcalf to give Hooker a 16-14 lead.
Parsons put Hooker up 18-14 and a Metcalf free throw made it a 5-point lead. A pair of Cathcart free throws put Hooker up 21-14 before the Panthers scored to end the half.
Parsons put Hooker up by five early in the third, but Smith went to work for Latta. The senior got a steal and two free throws to cut it to three, and gave the Panthers the lead 27-26 with 1:42 to go in the third.
Cathcart gave Hooker what would be its final lead of the game with 1:21 left in the third before Smith put Latta up 33-28 to end the quarter.
Cathcart led Hooker with 15 points, Metcalf added 12, Parsons 11, Neville 2 and Jerod Kerr 1.
NOTES: This was Hooker’s first appearance in the state tournament since 2000 when the Bulldogs fell to Yale in the state quarterfinals ... Hooker has made one appearance in the state championship game, in 1995 when the Bulldogs fell 68-66 to Ketchum in the finals ... Prior appearance were in 1962, 1988 and 1993, including a 1962 semifinal loss to Velma-Alma ... Hooker graduates four seniors: Garrett Maloney, Cade Fischer, Dawson Metcalf and Isahi Vargas.

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