By BEN JOHNSON
FORT GIBSON — Keys' height of glory in 2012 came at Fort Gibson's Harrison Fieldhouse. This year, it was the site of a heart-breaking ending to the Cougars' season.
Adair's Brady Bradbury made two free throws with nine second remaining to send the Warriors to a 47-46 victory in front of 600 fans at Fort Gibson's spacious confines.
On its final possession, Keys had a chance to win and advance in the Area III consolation bracket, but forward Peyton Ragsdale lost the handle on an inbounds pass with two seconds left. By the time he corralled the ball, he had to hoist up a prayer near the 3-point line that had no chance of going in.
Ball game over. Season over.
"Peyton gets the ball point blank right there," said Keys coach Duane Jones, whose team punched its ticket to the state tournament here last year with a victory over Kansas in the area tournament finals.
"Then he dribbled and the ball went through his hands. I thought he was fixing to turn and score when he caught the ball."
In an instant, Keys' season came crashing down. The Cougars finished the year with a 14-13 record.
The loss also brought five careers to a close for the Cougars. It marked the final game for Ragsdale, Mason Turman, Trevor Eubanks, Tyler Blankenship and Cody Cole.
Ragsdale and Cole both scored 12 points to pace the Cougars. Eubanks added 11 points but couldn't get shots to fall in a 5-of-15 shooting performance from the field.
"This group, a lot of them played for three years," Jones said of his senior class. "We've had a lot of success with those guys. We won a couple of regional championships and went to the state tournament with them. They're going to be hard to replace. They were a fun group to coach."
Adair, which has now won five straight after falling to Dewey in district play, kept its winning ways alive thanks to a fourth-quarter run spearheaded by an unlikely hero: Greg Oxford.
The junior guard scored six of his 10 points in the game during a 20-second span in the fourth quarter. With 2:13 left, he converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to pull the Warriors (20-9) within three (45-42). He followed that up with a 3-pointer from the right corner to knot things up at 45.
“He’s capable of doing that,” Adair coach Travis Cannady said of Oxford knocking down key baskets. “Ever since the Pryor tournament, he’s really come around and done a really good job for us. I knew he could do it all year long, but I just had to let him take care of business. He was a little tight earlier in the year, but he has really come along.”
Then it was Bradbury's turn to take over. The 5-10 senior guard, who led Adair with 23 points, drove to the basket and got fouled with nine seconds left. He calmly sank both foul shots, and Adair would eventually rejoice in front of a dejected Keys group.
“We’ve had two or three games like that this year,” Cannady said. “So, I knew it was a situation that if we got in it’s not something he hadn’t been in before, so I knew we could handle it.”
In the third quarter, Keys was able to withstand Adair's first attempt at a comeback. With the Warriors breathing down their necks, the Cougars halted Adair's 9-0 run with Ragsdale two-handed dunk at the 1:40 mark.
The Cougars would carry a 33-29 lead into the fourth quarter, in which they were outscored 18-13.
"I don't know what to say; it's a disappointing end to our season," said Jones, whose club squandered a 26-19 halftime advantage, too.
Keys led throughout the contest with Adair claiming its only lead of the game on Bradbury's fifth and sixth foul shots of the game.
For the second straight game, Keys dominated its opponent on the glass. After manhandling Westville in the rebounding department on Thursday, the Cougars claimed a 37-22 edge in the consolation semifinals.
Keys out-shot Adair — but not by much. The Cougars were 19 of 50 from the field, while the Warriors were 15 of 51.
“I really thought we’d come out and win today, and with a seven-point lead we were looking pretty good,” Jones said. “Then, we turned the ball over and they hit a couple of big shots.”
Adair 47, Keys 46
Adair 4 15 10 18 — 47
Keys 13 13 7 13 — 46
Adair (20-9): Brady Bradbury 23, Greg Oxford 10, Fleming 9, Martin 3, Eastin 2.
Keys (14-13): Cody Cole 12, Peyton Ragsdale 12, Trevor Eubanks 11, Blankenship 5, Turman 4, Stayathome 2.
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