AFTON - Six free throws in the final 30 seconds helped Preston hold off Afton for a 68-60 victory in the boys' championship game of the Afton Coca-Cola Classic here Saturday night.
“Give Afton a lot of credit - they came out and handled our pressure well,” Preston coach Mark Hudson said. “We couldn't make them turn it over. We had them down 11 and they made a great run. We showed a little panic but the kids regrouped. That was important.
“We had to make free throws down the stretch, and we did.”
An 8-0 run by the Pirates created a 60-49 lead with 2:25 remaining.
But instead of folding the tent, the Eagles came roaring back.
Coy Crane turned in a conventional 3-point play, Ryan Markes then came through with consecutive 3-point goals, cutting the gap to 60-57 with 1:50 remaining.
Ryan Hudson hit a pair of free throws to pad the lead back to five with 1:25 to play.
Afton had a chance to cut into the deficit again, but Brandon Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Crane nailed a trey with 40 seconds left, leaving Preston with a 62-60 advantage.
Hutson hit four free throws and Kyle Brown added two to seal the win for the Pirates, who had been ranked No. 1 in Class A in the preseason but entered the tournament 1-2.
“That's the reason Coach (Shane) Simpson wanted to seek out better teams to play this year,” said Markes, who succeeded Simpson as the Eagles coach. Simpson resigned in September to accept a job at Pryor. He was in the crowd Saturday night.
“We had the opportunity to get them in and that's why we did,” Markes said. “We need to be ready to face that type of team.”
The Eagles also will see top-notch competition later in the season when they enter a tournament at Morrison.
“We just have to refocus tomorrow and put this behind us,” Markes said. “Our kids played hard. Coy played the best game he's ever had. He used all his teammates and did things that kept us in the game.”
Crane, who finished with 21 points, and Hudson, who had eight for Preston, shared tournament MVP honors.
Marco Thompson scored 20 points, Jerritt Bazquez had 17 and Kyle Brown added 10 for Preston.
Joining Crane in double figures for Afton was Markes with 18 and Free had 16 before fouling out late.
In other games Saturday night, Kansas beat Colcord 55-49 to finish third and Fairland topped Oklahoma Union 43-39 for fifth.
Oklahoma Union 39
The Owls overcame a 13-9 first quarter deficit by outscoring OU 9-6 in the second period.
Fairland carried a 33-31 lead into the fourth quarter, then held a 10-8 edge the rest of the way.
Jesse Drosche and Aaron Gleidt had 11 points each for the Owls.
Dakota Gunn scored 15 and Kyle Moore added 11 for the Cougars.
Joining Crane and Hudson on the all-tournament team were Thompson and Kansas' Greg Lankston.