Cubs rally for 52-47 victory in district opener

WINDTHORST— The Olney Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak and picked up a 52-47 victory over Windthorst in their district opener.

The Cubs struggled early, going into halftime down seven, but Olney coach Carl Pennington opted to physically challenge the Trojans by switching to a man-to-man defense.

“Tonight, we stole one,” Pennington said. “We could have easily quit, but we fought back. What made the difference was we went to man-to-man. They were out hustling us on our zone and we were not rotating. I figured, the only way was to go man-to-man. If your man beats you, that’s on you. If you’re in a zone you can say ‘that wasn’t my area.’ If you’re in a man-to-man, then it’s on you.”

After coming out of halftime down 31-26, seniors Eli Johnson and Carson Fite reinvigorated the Cubs by quickly cutting Windthorst’s lead to a bucket on a contested lay-in by Johnson and a 3-pointer by Fite, who led the Cubs in scoring with 17 points.

“I had been struggling with my shot all year and working on it in the gym every single day,” Fite said. “I knew if I worked hard, then it would come back. Tonight, it came back and helped me out. It was good to know I could still pull up and shoot out there.”

Johnson would leave the game after incurring a technical foul, but sophomore post Parker Mayer and senior post Travis Hudson filled the void. A game-tying jumper by senior guard Brent McCorkle evened the score to 40-40 and another 3-pointer by Fite, his xx of xx Tuesday night, gave the Cubs a 43-41 lead. Windthorst would chip away at Olney’s lead, but Hudson and Mayer’s stout play underneath let the Cubs pull away. The Trojans locked the game up with a jumper from junior guard Corben Reynolds, but Mayer quickly doused any notion of a Windthorst victory after fighting multiple Trojan defenders for possession, then powering his way by them for the go-ahead bucket. Another hard-fought basket by Hudson put the Cubs up 48-44. Windthorst fouls put the Cubs in the bonus late in the fourth quarter, which allowed Olney to extend its lead from the free-throw line.

“Travis and I are a really strong team,” Mayer said. “We get a lot of rebounds and work hard against each other in practice. It really helps us when we get into a game situation because it gives us a faster pace. We lost both games against Windthorst last year. This is great because it puts us in a great position heading into Archer and Graford.

With the win, the Cubs evened their record to 6-6 will take a few days to rest before heading into the Graford tournament this weekend. Should the Cubs win in their opener, they will face the top-ranked Graford Jackrabbits, who bested the Cubs twice this season — the first on a 71-39 blowout, but the second was much more contentious with the Cubs falling by three.

“Hopefully we can keep rolling,” Fite said. “We need to get a win against Graford. The first time we did not do too well and the second time we lost by three. This time, if we can do all the right things, I think we can beat them.”

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