High School Sports

Foss boys overcome early jitters for playoff victory

A sluggish start didn’t cause any panic Thursday on the Foss boys basketball bench.

Instead, it helped focus the Falcons.

No. 7 Foss shook shook off early jitters to turn in an offensively dominant second half and beat Sumner, 54-46, in the first round of the Class 3A West Central District 3 tournament at Foss High School.

“We just let the game come to us and started playing defense,” said senior guard Michel Cocké, who scored a game-high 13 points. “We were giving up too many easy buckets in the first half.”

In addition to shocking the Falcons (17-4) in the opening half, the Spartans held Foss leading scorer Haywood Irwin, who is averaging 19.4 points per game, to just seven.

But that didn’t worry Foss coach Mike Cocké.

“We’ve got a lot of balance on this team,” he said. “This year it’s been different guys every night. We’ve got guys who can score; it’s just a matter of can we defend, and black out and limit their offense.”

With the win, Foss will play Kennedy Catholic (19-2) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Rogers High in a quarterfinal. Sumner falls into the consolation bracket and will face Prairie (8-13) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Clover Park.

Sumner (13-7) opened Thursday’s scoring with a trio of 3-pointers and built a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But Foss cut the deficit to 22-21 late in the second quarter on a layup by senior forward Stephon Shaw, and trailed by just three at halftime.

Cocké said several of his players have never been in the playoffs, and they needed time to calm down.

“Once they got kind of punched in the mouth to start the game out, they did a better job to kind of bounce back,” he said.

Foss took its first lead, 27-26, with 5:48 remaining in the third quarter, and never relinquished it, going on a 9-0 run to take a three-point lead into the fourth.

“We knew they could jump out of the gym, and our kids are a little undersized,” said Sumner coach Brett McDaniel. “(But) they worked really hard defensively. To hold Foss to 54, that was what we were hoping for.

“We just needed a couple more shots to go down for us.”

Sumner pulled within four late in the game on a 3-pointer by senior guard Riley Bruil, but on its final possession had the ball stolen by Foss sophomore forward Roberto Gittens, who drove for a layup to end scoring.

“You never want to end up on the short and lose, but we came out with intensity and fire,” said Bruil, who led Sumner with 13 points and is averaging a team-high 13.1 points per game. “I had a blast.”