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Second-half struggles doom Millers

Brayden Dutton of Yukon takes a hit during Tuesday’s game with Stillwater. Photo / Terry Groover

Kevin Ritter was almost at a loss for word.
His Yukon Miller basketball team had seen a 10-point first-half lead against the Stillwater Pioneer all but evaporate in the third quarter, and then completely disappear in the fourth.
At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied, sending the game into overtime.
There, the Pioneers outscored Yukon 7-3 to knock off the Millers 58-54.
The Millers (8-4) are on a two-game skid, having lost last Tuesday to Deer Creek.
Ritter said the team struggles at the free-throw line, especially in the third and fourth quarters, were the turning point.
“We went eight of 17 in free throws in the third and fourth quarter. In overtime and the game, we left nine points on the floor,” he said.
Yukon had led the game throughout until about 1:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Stillwater fell behind early in the game, with Yukon carrying a 13-10 lead into the second quarter and a 29-22 lead at halftime.
Yukon also held the Pioneers to no points for the first three minutes of the third quarter and didn’t commit a foul at all in the period.
However, when the tide turned, the Millers felt it.
They racked up five fouls in less than two minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Yukon’s shooting also turned cold.
Stillwater scored 18 points in the third quarter to tie the game at the end of the quarter at 40.
Despite the foul problems, Stillwater had trouble taking advantage, hitting only 10 of 22 from the charity stripe.
Yukon didn’t do much better, hitting 14 of 26.
“We couldn’t score. We had wide-open layups and couldn’t hit them. We couldn’t guard anybody, we couldn’t contain anybody,” Ritter said in frustration.
“We’re still trying to piece things together. Obviously, we haven’t done it yet,” Ritter said.
Yukon was led by Justus Reister, who scored 17 points. However, he fouled out late in the game.
Reister spent most of the night in the paint, hitting seven of nine shots. He also hit 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.
Carson Lambakis finished the night with 11 points.
Colby Baker finished with nine points, while Brayden Dutton finished with eight points.
Meanwhile, Stillwater had three players in double figures.
Garrick Martin led the way with 16 points, followed by Kobe Holley with 15 and Bayden Reece with 12.
Stillwater only shot 18 of 50 from two-point range and 4 of 17 from behind the arc.
“We had the lead early and had a chance to throw a knock-out blow three or four times in the first half, and didn’t,” Ritter said, adding that when an opponent gets an opportunity for a comeback, they often do.
“We had a chance to knock them out, didn’t; had a chance to finish, didn’t; had a chance in overtime, didn’t. We had three chances. We just didn’t do it,” the coach said.
The Millers were back in action Thursday and Friday at the Sweet Pea Tournament in Newcastle. Results from those games were not available.

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