CLAREMORE, OK —
With ice water running through his veins, sophomore Arlis Alsip delivered a shot that was as cold as the air outside the gym in Claremore.
Alsip hit a game-winning, step-back jumper with just 23 seconds left to play as Chouteau escaped the first round of a Class 2A area tournament with a 43-40 win over Kiefer Thursday afternoon at Claremore High School.
A bandaged and bloody Jason Couch led Chouteau with 14 points, while Isaac Carter hauled in 9 boards in the win.
From the very beginning, Chouteau took the lead and ran with it. However, poor shooting from both teams had coaches and fans alike scratching their heads in disbelief.
The Wildcats got out to a 13-8 lead after the first quarter of play, but those missed shots and opportunities were about to catch up with them.
Chouteau opened the second quarter going scoreless for the first four and a half minutes. That allowed Kiefer’s Kyle Howard to take control and get the Trojans back in the game.
Kiefer was finally able to grab their first lead of the game with a minute to go in the half, when Howard missed his shot, but grabbed his own rebound and got the putback. The two teams went into halftime, with Kiefer up one, 18-17.
Kiefer kept its lead for most of the third quarter, but Chouteau was able to keep it to no more than three points. Chouteau only led one time in the third, when senior Travis Brannon stole the ball with just 44 seconds remaining in the quarter. Brannon drove the floor, then dished it off to Couch, who scored and was fouled.
Couch was gushing blood just above his eye, and had to leave the game for the remainder of the third and part of the fourth.
However, Kiefer regained the lead when Lense Ramey drained a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, putting Kiefer up 29-27.
All season long, Chouteau had shown toughness in them, and that was led by Couch, who returned to the game with six minutes to play with a bandage and tape around his head.
“When I had to leave for a few minutes, I thought back to last year when the exact same thing happened to Jordon (Shive),” said Couch, who ended up with eight stitches after the game. “I just knew I had to get back out there and finish the game. Even when I was gone, my teammates kept playing like normal and did great.”
The game went back and forth for the final quarter. Chouteau had a two-point lead with just over a minute to go when Ramey hit a shot from beyond NBA range, putting Kiefer up by one, 40-39. The game stayed that way until Alsip hit his game-winner.
Kiefer would get the ball down the floor but turned it over. Couch was later fouled and sank both free throws, securing the come-from-behind win for Chouteau.
“When Shive threw me the ball, I turned the corner on my man and I knew that he thought, that I was going all the way,” said Alsip, describing his thoughts on his game winning shot. “So I took a step back, got set and knocked down the shot.”
“Our guys battled all the way through to the final buzzer,” said Couch. “They never give up. Even when we weren't hitting, we found ways to get points and got stops when we really needed them. “
Chouteau’s playoff hopes are still alive, as they were scheduled to play Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., in Claremore, against Yale, the same team that Chouteau beat in a district final Feb. 16.
Kiefer Scorers — Ramey 21, Howard 14, Bacon 3, Ford 2.
Chouteau Scorers — Couch 14, Shive 10, Brannon 6, Alsip 5, Bendure 4, Carter 4.