Valliant Allen comeback falls just short

Jeff Cali, The Ada News, Okla.
·3 min read

Feb. 22—ALLEN — The Allen Mustangs might have overcome a career game from Velma-Alma senior Jace Saville. And they might have overcome a critical cold stretch from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

However, they couldn't quite overcome both of those things at the same time.

The 10th-ranked Comets got a heroic 31 points from Saville and Allen missed nine total free throws in a 62-54 loss to Velma-Alma in a Class A Regional Tournament winner's bracket game Saturday night at Allen High School.

The Comets, coached by Ada High School graduate Kenny Bare, improved to 15-5 on the year, while Allen dropped to 12-9.

"It was nip and tuck anyway down the stretch. It was a closer game than the actual final score was," said Allen head coach Greg Mills. "We had a shot at the end to possibly beat them."

The Mustangs trailed by 14 early in the fourth quarter before staging a comeback.

After Austin Hunt hit a basket that pushed the Velma lead to 51-37 early in the final frame, Allen went to work.

Gage Holder hit a jumper and Chad Milne followed with a layup after a nice cut to the basket and two free throws at the 4:48 mark that cut the AHS deficit to 51-43.

Allen still trailed 54-45 with 3:54 to play before things got really tight.

Brayden Tatum scored on a fast break following a steal by Coyt Bell that started a 6-0 Allen surge. After Milne hit a tough, one-handed floater that followed a nice spin move in the lane, the Mustangs had pulled within 54-51. However, during that same stretch, Allen hit just 1-of-6 free throws. Those glaring misses proved costly.

"You have to hit your free throws in games like this," Mills said.

The Comets hit eight consecutive free throws of their own over the final 1:09 to ice the game.

Saville started cookin' early for the Comets. He scored 16 points in the first quarter — including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the eye of the mustang about two steps beyond the half-court line — to help the visitors get off to a 25-12 start. He finished the game 9-of-10 from the field, 5-of-5 from the 3-point stripe and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Saville sank four free throws in the fourth period and also had a pair of steals.

"I think they had some kids play exceptionally well tonight that really hurt us. We came out a little shell-shocked early," Mills said.

Allen trailed 34-23 at halftime and Velma-Alma carried a 49-35 lead into what turned out to be a tight fourth quarter. The Mustangs outscored the Comets 16-5 to begin the final frame.

Hunt was the only other Velma-Alma player to reach double figures with 11 points, while 6-6 center Tyler Stewart followed with eight points and 13 rebounds.

Milne was magnificent for Allen. He scored a team-best 26 points, hit three 3-pointers and was 5-of-8 from the charity stripe. Milne also pulled down 11 rebounds to go with three steals and five blocked shots.

Tatum was next with 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. Holder was next with seven points.

The Comets finished 15-of-22 overall from the free-throw line compared to an 11-of-20 showing for Allen.

Allen was scheduled to battle Arkoma at 3 p.m. today (Monday) in a Class A Regional consolation contest at North Rock Creek High School in Shawnee. A win would put the Mustangs in another regional consolation game at 3 p.m. Tuesday against the Talihina-Elmore City winner for a berth in the Class A Area Tournament Thursday night at McLoud High School.