It’s hard to find where the Millers went right on the stat sheet against Stillwater, but it’s easy to find where they went wrong.
In Yukon’s 67-41 loss to the Pioneers, offense took a hit all night while defense couldn’t seem to stop their opponent. While Stillwater got nearly whatever they wanted on the court, the Millers couldn’t buy a basket.
Yukon shot 28.9 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from the three-point line on 3-of-17 shooting. The Pioneers shot 49.2 percent from the field and tied Yukon in three-point shooting percentage by hitting 3-of-17 for 17.6 percent.
“We just didn’t force them to do things,” coach Kevin Ritter said. “We had a plan to do things and we just didn’t do a good job.”
Of all the shooting statistics, Yukon led in just one; free throws.
The Millers nailed just 12 out of 29 attempts for 41 percent. 17 of those came in the fourth quarter alone. Yukon’s starting lineup went 4 for 12 from the charity stripe. The Pioneers didn’t manage to draw as many fouls, shooting two for five for 40 percent.
Though they went to the line more than their opponent, sinking a few more would have given Yukon some confidence.
“Shooting 28 percent and then not making free throws, all that together is not a good plan,” Ritter said.
Missed shots early resounded throughout the rest of the game.
“We didn’t make some shots early and some of our guys kind of looked panic. Like, they didn’t know what was going on,” Ritter said. “I think that was part of it. We didn’t make many shots and we freaked out and didn’t take the shots we had been getting lately.”
Stillwater led the Millers in every statistical category outside of shooting.
Yukon gathered 25 boards to the Pioneer’s 46. Stillwater had 18 assists to Yukon’s four.
Stillwater even led Yukon in negative stats such as fouls, which the Pioneers led 24 to 10.
Yukon will be at the Otho “Sweet Pea” Curtis Newcastle Invitational this week but there will be playoff attitude coming from the Millers.
With a 5-7 record, Yukon will emphasize the Newcastle tournament for seeding in the post season. With a goal to play on a neutral site, taking a record above .500 over the next five games is crucial.
“We discussed that it’s big just because of playoffs,” Ritter said. “We’ve got five more games before playoff seedings go in. every win might make the difference of who we’re going to play and where we get to play at. This year, the goal was to make sure we weren’t playing at a home team that was top four.”
Last season, the Millers faced eventual state champions Putnam City North at home in the first round, a “deflating” situation for Yukon, according to Ritter. He wanted to ensure his players didn’t get in a similar position.
“These five games give us a chance to boost ourselves up and get in a neutral site with someone and give us a puncher’s shot at maybe knocking somebody out. That’s the goal. The goal is always to win the tournament and I tell them, only one team can do that, the other thing is you’ve got to leave with two.
“For the playoffs it’s important we get two.”
Yukon will play Chickasha (5-11) Thursday in the first round. The Newcastle tournament features teams such as Heritage Hall, Putnam City North Junior Varsity, Ada, Blanchard, Newcastle, and the Oklahoma City Storm.
The Millers and the Fightin’ Chicks face off at 8:30 p.m. in Newcastle.