If you like nailbiters where the good guys win in the end, Dennis Lesh Sports Arena was the place to be Tuesday night as the Pratt Community College women and men both came away with narrow wins over Allen County.
The Lady Beavers started the evening off with a 57-54 win over the visiting Red Devils, while their male counterparts were able to come away with a 73-64 victory in a game that was closer than the final score might indicate.
PCCs women enjoyed a height advantage, but the Red Devils counteracted that with pressure defense on the wings and doubling down when the ball would get into the post.
Pratt was still able to fashion a 26-17 halftime lead, at least partly on the strength of control of the boards.
In the second half, the Lady Beavers had extended their lead to 35-22 at the 15:00 mark, a seemingly comfortable margin- but the Red Devils were not about to go gently into that quiet night.
Allen County began  driving the ball to the hole relentlessly, with the result that they were sent to the free throw line frequently. They began to chip away at the PCC lead as the Lady Beavers misfired offensively a little too frequently.
By the 6 minute mark, Allen County was right back in the game, only trailing 48-42.
At 1:33, the lead had almost totally evaporated for PCC, the score standing 53-52.  Elle Stein and Hayli Smith were able to hit some big free throws down the stretch to help keep Allen County at bay.
A 3-pointer launched by Allen at the buzzer would have sent the game into overtime, but it rimmed out and the Lady Beavers had escaped with  a 57-54 win to keep their record intact at 5-0.
PCC womens’ coach Stephanie Thompson was happy with her team’s ability to persevere through adversity and hang on for the win. “It’s nice to see the kids have enough confidence to battle and fight when the game gets tough,” she said. “You always hope they will be able to come through when the game is on the line, and tonight they did.”
Four players were in double figures for the Lady Beavers. Tatiana Grant led the way with 14, 11 of which came in the second half when many of the other Beavers had gone cold.
Point guard Maddie Pendry had 13, Hayli Smith 11 and Elle Stein 10 to round out a balanced scoring attack.
“It’s good when we can spread out the scoring. It makes us harder to guard,” explained Thompson. “ We don’t have that one girl who’s going to just light it up every night. It’s better for us when we get balanced scoring.”
The men’s game started slowly put picked up momentum as it proceeded. The first half saw PCC nursing a narrow lead for most of it. Aaron Abram hit a couple of 3s and a free throw to boost the Beavers to a 20-15 advantage at the 6 minute mark-their largest lead of the first half.
Allen County made a run, however, and a transition basket gave them a 22-21 lead at 3:54. From there, the Beavers clamped down on the D though, holding the Red Devils to but a single free throw over the final minutes while putting up 5 points of their own to take a 26-23 lead into the break.
The second half began with the two sides trading baskets for five minutes, but then the Beavers turned it up and notch, using increased intensity and some hustle plays to forge an 8 point margin, 40-32.
Over the next several minutes, however, Allen staged a comeback, eventually knotting the score at 50 with 7 minutes left to play.
Kazmere Boyd was instrumental in regaining the lead for PCC scoring 7 of his 19 points over the next couple of minutes to spark the Beavers to a 6 point lead at 3:30.
Medicine Lodge product Bryan Hellman scored a fast-break bucket and Javis Flynn drove the lane to keep the Devils at arms length down the stretch.
The Beavers were ultimately able to come away with a 9 point 73-64 win but it wasn’t easy.
    Especially in the first half, the Beavers were short of guards, 3 being in foul trouble, another one limited by an injury, and another being held for disciplinary reasons. But they found a way, and ultimately moved to 4-1 on the season.
Kazmere Boyd, a redshirt freshman, had a big night, with most of his 19 points coming in the second half.
“Being a redshirt, Kaz started the season a little rusty,” head coach Jesse Shaw remarked. “Earlier this season, he was getting benched during games for miscues, but tonight I let him play through the mistakes and he came up big for us.”
“We just tried to put together what we work on in practice and bring it to the court tonight,” Boyd said in explaining the win. “Our team just stayed together, kept our heads up and kept working hard.”
The Lady Beavers will be tested at the Coffeyville Tournament over the weekend, while the men take an Oklahoma road trip, facing Redlands and a rematch with Tonkawa, who dealt them their only defeat so far this season.

Lady Beavers  26 31  57
Allen County   17  37  54

Grant 4/0/6-7/14; Pendry 3/1/4-7/13; Smith 3/1/2-5/11; Broadwater 1/1/0/5;
Mehl 1/0/0/2; Parks 1/0/0/2; Stein 3/0/4-8/10

Beavers            26 47  73
Allen County  23  41  64

Abram 1/2/1-2/9; Flynn 3/0/6-9/12;Rogers 3/0/2-2/8; Boyd 5/1/6-9/19; Michaelson 0/2/0/6; Taylor 1/0/1-2/3; Abraham 1/0/5-6/7;
Downs 0/0/1-2/1; Stivrins 2/0/3-4/7; Hellman 1/0/1-3/3