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The Duncan Holiday Classic presented the Altus Bulldogs basketball team with an opportunity to get back on track after a 2-5 start to the 2018-19 basketball season put the team in an early season hole.
The Bulldogs played three games at the Holiday Classic but struggled throughout, finishing in eighth place and dropping to 2-8 on the season.
Altus began the tournament against Class 6A’s eighth-ranked Sand Springs Sandites in what would ultimately result in a, 78-36, loss.
Sand Springs’ defense smothered the Bulldogs’ offense, forcing 24 turnovers and limiting Altus to 38 percent shooting in the game. The Bulldogs made five of their 17 shots from deep and seven of their 15 shots from two-point range, but between the turnovers and Sand Springs’ explosive offense, Altus had little chance to fall into a rhythm.
Of all the Bulldogs who played, TaVarri Filer found the most success. Filer drained a pair of threes and added a two-point bucket and four free throws to finish with 12 points. Behind him was Carson Pickett who finished with five points and Javon Bostic who had four.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs into a battle with Classen’s School of Advanced Studies. The Bulldogs were without Pickett, Kurt Vuittonet and Johnny Olivas. Vuittonet was out due to sickness while Pickett and Olivas were out for undisclosed reasons.
Even with one of the team’s biggest playmakers down, the Bulldogs managed to stay competitive throughout, but a slow start doomed Altus and allowed Classen to come away with a 67-46 victory.
An eight-point first quarter and six-point second quarter were followed by a 22-point third quarter in which the Bulldogs found the bucket often and with lots of success.
Leading the charge was Chris West who scored 10 of the Bulldogs’ 22 points, followed by Branson Ford who added five points.
West added four points in the fourth quarter but Classen did enough on the offensive and defensive ends of the ball to keep Altus from drawing any closer.
West finished with 16 points in the game while Ford added 12 and Tim Gloria chipped in four.
The Bulldogs, again, were hurt by an abundance of turnovers — 23 — and struggled from the three-point line where they converted just one of their 10 attempts.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs into a battle for seventh-place, and despite their best efforts, the Bulldogs fell short against Western Heights by just three points, 69-66.
Although Vuittonet was still out with an illness, Pickett returned to the court, hoping to lead Altus to victory, but Western Heights had other plans.
The Bulldogs were much more efficient against Western Heights, making 24 of their 47 two-point shot attempts. Additionally, Altus’ West had his best game of the season, scoring 22 points on 53 percent shooting.
Pickett played in all four quarters but didn’t attempt a shot until the third. He made three of his seven shot attempts to finish the game with six points.
With Pickett playing conservatively, several other Bulldogs got involved in the game. Filer finished with 10 points while Matthew Saenz added nine, Ford finished with eight and Tyler Bush chipped in seven.
West’s performance in the final two games of the Duncan Holiday Classic earned him All-Tournament recognition.
The Bulldogs battle at Cache today before going to face Duncan on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.