Yukon watched their season come to an end following a close loss to Deer Creek in the first round of the regional tournament.
The Millers faced the Antlers for the third time this season with the result finding Deer Creek on the winning side yet again, 51-46. However, unlike their first two meetings, Yukon had a chance to win.
Yukon jumped out to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat of the contest. Yet, Deer Creek would make the first of many momentum-shifting runs of the night.
A second quarter surge found the Antlers tied with the Millers at 26 heading into the locker rooms at the halftime break.
Deer Creek took a comfortable lead in the early going of the second half. By the end of the third period, they led 39-36.
The Millers needed to see a big run in the fourth quarter to be competitive and they got it.
Yukon slowly dug themselves out of the scoring hole they created. Carson Lambakis tied the game at 44 with 2:55 to go in the game. Lambakis came up big again, giving the Millers a 46-44 lead with 1:22 remaining.
“We tried to get him to shoot in the first half and they were playing off of him, he finally started to stop and shoot the ball,” coach Kevin Ritter said. “He was one of our better shooters.”
However, those would be Yukon’s final points of the 2018-19 season. Deer Creek won 51-46 and advanced to the next round.
“You’ve just got to answer,” Ritter said. “Basketball is a game of ebb and flow. If there’s a run, you’ve just got to answer it with a run. We did for the most part.”
The Antlers deployed a 2-3 zone defense, designed to keep teams from scoring in the paint and shooting three pointers. Deer Creek was successful in that attempt.
Yukon saw eight three-point shots go in, but they could not execute in other facets of their game.
“They did it last game when we scored inside, they went zone again and we had a shoot out,” Ritter said. “They were doing a great job, we were not moving. We worked all week and didn’t execute in offense. We did on defense but offensively we did not execute what we wanted to.”
Moving the ball more quickly and having guards attack gaps in the defense would have also changed the outcome of the game, Ritter said.
The coach said the zone defense did not come as a surprise.
“We worked it a bunch,” he said. “We acted like we haven’t seen it before but we worked it a bunch. We worked it all week. That’s what we worked on for most of the week.”