FORT GIBSON, OK —
With senior Jordan Fleming sitting on the bench with four fouls and Adair up by a point with eight minutes left in regulation against Sperry, the Warrior crowd at Fort Gibson High School started to chant.
“Bra-dy! Bra-dy! Bra-dy!” they yelled, referring to 5-foot-10 senior and leading scorer Brady Bradbury, who had 11 points and had just hit the go-ahead layup to head into the fourth quarter.
Bradbury finished with 30 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter and overtime, but his desperation heave at the OT buzzer was just wide, allowing Sperry to escape with an 88-85 win Saturday night in a Class 3A area consolation final.
It was fitting that Bradbury — the only senior left in the game for Adair — had the last shot. Three Warriors had already fouled out, including Fleming, with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
“When Jordan [fouled out], that took our second main scoring option away. We ran a lot of screens, got a few creases and shot a lot of layups,” Bradbury said. “Our other guys were knocking down threes and keeping [Sperry] spread out, so really it was a good team effort.”
Adair was down 43-35 when Fleming picked up his fourth foul with 4:29 left in the third quarter. Fleming had a team-high 14 points at that juncture.
The eight-point lead was the biggest either team would enjoy for the rest of the way. After Fleming checked out, the Warriors went on an 11-1 run capped by a Greg Oxford trey that gave Adair its first lead in the second half (46-44) with 1:34 left in the third quarter.
Oxford and freshman Brock Martin led the comeback in the third with a 3-point barrage. Each hit two treys in the quarter, and Bradbury added a fifth.
The fourth quarter was a struggle, with neither team grabbing lead of more than five points. Bradbury and Pirate forward Casey Cole led the back-and-forth, scoring 11 and 10 points for their teams, respectively.
Bradbury went 5-for-5 from the line and hit three big shots in the fourth, including a layup with six seconds to go to tie the game at 73.
“Brady played his heart out tonight,” Adair coach Travis Cannady said. “That’s our persona. Go out and battle, do what we need to do in order to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Bradbury gave his team every chance to win. He scored eight of his team’s 12 points in the extra session, including a heroic spot-up triple to knot the game at 85.
Cannady played with a small rotation, so with three players fouled out, a pair of bench players — Taylor Gilmer and Ty Cannady — had to step in to a big-time situation.
“The guys that were in there in overtime, they’ve played their roles real well this year,” Coach Cannady said. “They did a really tremendous job for us Saturday night.”
With two starters and a key reserve on the bench, Adair’s magical run finally came to an end when Sperry’s Dylan Parker canned a 3-pointer with six seconds on the OT clock before Bradbury’s halfcourt shot fell short, granting the Pirates a bid to this weekend’s state tournament.
“It’s disappointing for the kids,” Cannady said. “Obviously they tried hard to make it to the state tournament, and to lose one in a tough game like that, in overtime, it stings.”
Fleming finished with 19 points in his last game in a Warrior jersey.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Fleming said. “[This team] always gave 110 percent in practice and in games, and I wouldn’t trade this team for anything. I’ve just been really proud to play with them.”
“The Adair program has really made me the young man I am now,” Bradbury said, as he noticed Coach Cannady walking by.
“Listening to this guy gripe at me since the sixth grade, it helped me temper myself and keep my emotions in check,” Bradbury said, sharing a laugh with his coach as he passed by on his way to the team bus.
“Those were the two players that were going to make us what we are,” Cannady said of Bradbury and Fleming. “I love those guys like they were my own kids.”
Oxford scored a baker’s dozen for Adair, while Martin added 10. James Eastin came off the bench to pitch in nine points and grabbed several critical rebounds.
Sperry got double-figure scoring from six players, including Cole (19), Logan Mullins (16), Blake Teel (15), Peyton Pratt (14), Javi Cazerez (12) and Parker (10). Cazarez also drained a quartet of 3-pointers.
Adair, which won five straight elimination games just to have a shot at the state tourney, finished the season at 20-10 and ranked 16th in the final coaches’ poll.
Adair Scorers — Bradbury 30, Fleming 19, Oxford 13, Martin 10, Eastin 9, Cody Eby 4.
Sperry Scorers — Cole 19, Mullins 16, Teel 15, Pratt 14, Cazerez 12, Parker 10, Colton Ketcherside 2.