Cold shooting fingers and just plain tough luck proved to be two obstacles the red-hot Bartlesville High School boys basketball team couldn’t overcome in Thursday’s opening round of the Carl Albert tourney.
Destiny Christian went on a late run and held on to beat the Bruins, 61-54, and spoil their bid for what could have been the first four-game winning streak during head coach Clent Stewart’s tenure.
Coming into the game, the Bruins had knocked off three 6A opponents, including Owasso, 77-74 (ot), Sand Springs, 82-54, and Bixby, 72-70.
And, the Bruins battle determinedly from the start against Destiny Christian.
During an explosive offensive first quarter, David Castillo completed a three-point play to cut Destiny’s lead to two points, 16-14.
“I thought we struggled with identifying what Destiny Christian was trying to do,” Stewart said. “Offensively, we didn’t execute what our game plan was.”
Because of Destiny Christian’s length and aggressive athleticism, the Bruins’ plan had been to drive to the hoop and to make an extra pass to an open shooter, Stewart explained.
But, Bartlesville only hit 16 percent from behind the three-point line, vastly lower than it’s usual performance.
Bartlesville then spurted into the lead on a combination of Nick Smith’s rebound-and-follow-up and three free throws by Aadhi Ayyappan, 19-18.
But, Destiny scored the final points of the quarter and led, 23-19.
Swapping points continued to define the pattern throughout the second quarter.
Ayyappan and Castillo drilled three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to elevated Bartlesville on top, 25-23.
After Destiny completed a 5-0 run, Kent Girard rang up a trey to knot the score, 28-28.
The game remained deadlocked at halftime, 32-32, with Castillo scoring a late two-pointer.
Destiny once again rode a mini-run to a two-possession lead, 38-34, and Bartlesville clawed back into the lead.
Castillo canned a two-pointer to make it a 38-37 game; moments later, Bruin guard DaRon Davis stole the ball, leading to a fast break layup by Castillo for a 39-38 lead.
Just as it had in the first quarter, Destiny ended the third with a flurry of points and went up by six, 45-39.
Bartlesville went down by eight, 47-39, before Smith got Bartlesville back on the board.
But, the Bruins just didn’t generate an answer and never got back within two possessions.
Castillo scored two quick buckets to trim the Destiny lead to seven points, 54-47, with plenty of time left.
After Destiny made a free throw, Jordan Carter canned a three-pointer for the Bruins to narrow the gap to five, 55-50.
That was as close as the Bruins would get.
Castillo made two free throws late to narrow the margin back to five, 58-53.
But by this time, the Bruins were forced to start fouling and Destiny made just enough of its free throws (5-of-8) to keep the lead at arm’s distance.
Castillo finished with 23 points, followed by Ayyappan with 15.
The Bruins scored their third-lowest point total of the season.
Bartlesville faced McAlester on Friday, with the chance to play Saturday for either fifth or seventh place.
Next up, Bartlesville travels Tuesday to Sapulpa and returns home next Friday to host Tulsa Washington.
Bartlesville three-game winning streaks since 2014:
2014-15: BHS 57, Millwood 49; BHS 66, Bishop Kelley 47; BHS 49, Muskogee 45.
2014-15: BHS 46, Sand Springs 40; BHS 58, Bixby 42; BHS 74, Putnam City 61.
2016-17: BHS 52, Coweta 48; BHS 63, Enid 57; BHS 55, Southmoore 36.
2017-18: BHS 59, Jenks 51; BHS 77, Enid 49; BHS 51, Stillwater 48.
2021-22: BHS 77, Owasso 74 (ot); BHS 82, Sand Springs 54; BHS 72, Bixby 70.
This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: HOOPS: Bartlesville boys' team falls in tourney