DONE LIONS | Kingfisher Times and Free Press
As the team warmed up for the second half on Tuesday night, Kingfisher High School boys’ assistant coach Danny Green sprinted to the locker room at State Fair Arena.
Green’s job was to free Cash Slezickey, who managed to lock himself inside as the rest of the team exited and the door was locked from the outside.
Slezickey grabbed his phone, called some Kingfisher fans and let the coaches know he’d like to play in the second half.
With Slezickey on the court, No. 1 Kingfisher started this second half with his most dominant streak of the game in what turned out to be a 41-28 win over Blanchard in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
The win propelled the Jackets to the semi-finals for the fifth straight time. They faced No. 4 Crossings Christian School on Friday night (after press time) in the semi-finals.
A win there would put Kingfisher in state title play for the fifth time since 2017.
“We would have noticed before half time started,” coach Jared Reese said of when it hit the coaches they were missing a player. “The money starts for us, so we would have realized that soon enough.”
Modern technology let them know earlier and with Slezickey down, KHS turned a nine-point halftime lead into a 33-15 advantage in just over three minutes.
Chase Davis sandwiched a steal with a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes of halftime.
After Blanchard scored a quick bucket, Drake Friesen buried another 3-pointer and Jud Birdwell hit a pair of free throws for the 18-point lead at 4:57.
Although KHS went unscored the rest of the quarter and Blanchard scored five in a row, the Lions never challenged Kingfisher’s lead.
They were never able to bring it down to single digits. A three-point play from Cole Milam to bring his team to 39-28 with 2:21 to go was as close as it gets.
That’s because Kingfisher’s stifling defense once again told the story of the day.
Blanchard attempted just 27 field goals and shot just 37%. Kingfisher forced the Lions to 16 turnovers.
Turnovers never allowed Blanchard to get a consistent attack.
“We’re just trying to force teams to do things that they’re not comfortable doing,” Reese said. “Our pressure may have disrupted a lot of what they tried. Our guys executed it very well.
This helped offset the fact that Kingfisher only shot 36% overall himself.
The difference, however, was beyond the arc.
While Blanchard was just 2 of 5 from downtown, the Jackets were 9 of 19, a difference of 21 points.
All five KHS starters hit from downtown in the first half as the team went 6 of 11.
Two of them came from Maddox Mecklenburg in the first quarter.
Slezickey and Caden Kitchens also had treys in the first quarter as the team led 13-9 after one.
Xavier Ridenour started the second with a trey and Davis finished it with a as KHS slowly built their lead.
Davis eventually went 3 of 4 from deep to score his nine points. He also had three rebounds and two blocks.
Mecklenburg scored eight points while Kitchens added five and had a record nine rebounds.
Ridenour was Kingfisher’s top scorer with 11 points while Slezickey scored three.
It was the second straight year for KHS to beat Blanchard at the state. The Jackets won 46-34 in the 2021 Quarterfinals en route to winning the state crown.
The win was Kingfisher’s 12th in a row this season as they improved to 26-1.
It was also the program’s seventh straight win in the state tournament, dating back to the 2018 championship game.
Crossings Christian won their fourth game in a row on Tuesday, beating Holland Hall 45-40 in overtime in the quarter-finals.
The Knights were Class 3A champions last year before being promoted to 4A this season.
In other quarterfinal matches, Weatherford stunned No. 3 Heritage Hall 77-63 behind a 32-point performance from Cade Jennings.
The Eagles faced Victory Christian in the semifinals on Friday after the Conquerors beat Mount St. Mary 60-53 in the first round.