Senior night proved to be interesting for Yukon, getting to play their first-round playoff matchup.
Deer Creek played visitor to the Millers who were playing their final game of the season on their home floor. Yukon didn’t come out victorious but that wasn’t their goal.
As is customary in a senior night game, all five seniors got the starting nod. Carson Price, Austin Ruth, Tyler Dechant, Caimon McGee, and Desmon Elliot rounded out the starting five.
Playing two guards and three post players is unconventional, however, coach Kevin Ritter said it was more about the experience than anything.
“I told them that I just wanted them to compete. I wasn’t worried about anything else, I’m not worried about the score. As long as we’re playing hard and we did that for about 28 minutes. Close, we’ve just got to do it for 32,” he said.
As Ritter mentioned, the effort swayed in and out throughout the evening.
Unlike their first meeting in the third game of the season, the Millers came out with aggression, yet they let up in the third quarter.
The halftime score was 26-23 and a third period surge by the Antlers saw the deficit stretch to 44-33 heading into the fourth.
“First half, we played hard and I told them, in the second half they’re going to play harder because they didn’t take you seriously after the first game,” Ritter said. “We didn’t match the intensity.”
Deer Creek won 59-45.
The effort was present against their future playoff foe, but the beginning of the second half saw the Millers take a break.
“They played hard except for that third quarter. I was proud of them. It’s one of those weird games, you want to let them play and you want them to have fun. We just weren’t able to get a win.”
The first meeting between the two was the third of four straight losses. Yukon dropped the game 66-43 on the road.
While the score was closer this time around, there were similarities.
“We competed harder in the first half,” Ritter said. “Last time, we shot awful and tonight, we shot awful. I told them at halftime, the team that wins this game is going to play harder and make shots. They made more shots than we did.”
The biggest difference was seen in the Miller’s lineup. Roster changes over winter break saw players leave the team and others join.
“We were a completely different team. We have a different roster, we’re playing different people,” Ritter said. “We’re better but we have to be better than this next week because they’re going to have another guy back and we’re going to see if we can knock them out in the first round of playoffs.”
Playing a team nearly a week before facing off in the playoffs is a delicate situation to be in. Ritter said he wasn’t letting Deer Creek get a peek at what to expect.
“We didn’t run anything tonight,” he said. “We just went out and played and I think they did the same thing because I haven’t seen them run that much zone all year. I think they did the same concept.”
As for their third meeting, Ritter hopes it doesn’t play out like the first two.
“I hope not, I hope it’s a different sequel.”
Yukon and Deer Creek will play at Norman North High School on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.