Callisburg’s Landon Condiff is used to filling up the stat sheet with points, but his shot just wasn’t falling at his usual rate in a critical road matchup against Whitesboro.
As his team traded leads with the Bearcats throughout the second half of the key district showdown, Condiff knew he had to switch up his game.
The Southeastern Oklahoma State commit started facilitating and getting his teammates involved with the Whitesboro defense constantly smothering him.
Then when his team needed him most, he delivered by going 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final minutes to salt away the 47-42 victory Tuesday, Jan. 19, to keep his team undefeated at 20-0 on the season.
Despite not racking up his usual offense, Condiff knew he had to come through for his team at the charity stripe.
“It felt good,” Condiff said. “Free throws win games, especially in big, close district games like this. I knew I wasn’t hitting from the 3-point line, so I had to get going from the free-throw line. It was pretty frustrating for sure, but we still found a way to get a win in district and that’s all that matters.”
In the first district matchup on Dec. 18, Callisburg held on for a 60-51 win, but Tuesday the Bearcats held the lead late in the fourth quarter before Condiff helped stave off the Whitesboro charge.
The win also moved Callisburg to 8-0 in district play.
“It’s a rivalry obviously,” Condiff, who finished with 19 points, said. “They’re pretty good. This gym is so loud, so it was like a playoff atmosphere. It was very back and forth. They hit big shots. We got the win though. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about points. We have a lot of work to do. We’re not even close to where we should be.”
After the game, Callisburg head coach Shad Reed went into the locker room with some panache.
To the tune of Post Malone’s “Congratulations,” Reed and his team began to dance and he said it was important for his team to celebrate the momentous wins.
“A couple of weeks ago, we beat Pilot Point and I asked my manager to turn on a cool song so we could hoop and holler, but his phone died, so right before the game was over this time I asked him if he had juice, so we went in there and kind of jumped around,” Reed said. “It was great. This game was crazy because I’ve got four years of memories here and I knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Whitesboro held a 14-12 lead after the first quarter, but Callisburg bounced back and outscored the Bearcats 11-6 to take a 23-20 lead to halftime.
The Wildcats built a nine-point lead in the third quarter, but Whitesboro roared back to eventually take a one-point lead in the fourth before Callisburg went on its final run of the game.
Reed said he knew his team would have a target on its back with the undefeated record and so every game is going to be a battle.
“After Chris Beard [Texas Tech basketball coach] beat Texas in Austin, he asked for a bunch of street dogs and I asked my team to be a bunch of street dogs against Whitesboro because we have to get after them and bow up,” Reed said. “I felt like we did that. I was proud of how we ground out a tough win and I knew this was coming because I kind of had this penciled in as a game we might lose.”
At halftime, Reed told his team that the game plan was out the window and that it would be a boxing match in the second half.
Jessie Klein and Ian Kraft aided the offense with 10 points each and Reed said that was key, especially with Condiff struggling.
“I thought Klein came up big and Landon is such a special player, but I tell him that there is going to come a day where he’s not going to get his 30 a game and he’s going to have to get the assists,” Reed said. “I thought he did that. Ian Kraft was also a monster for us in the first quarter. I told those guys that there is going to have to be complimentary scoring because Whitesboro does such a good job guarding [Condiff].”
The 47 points the Wildcats scored were a season low and Reed was quick to credit Whitesboro’s athleticism and grit along with head coach Toby Sluter’s defensive mind.
Callisburg will have another key district tilt when it hosts Ponder on Friday, Jan. 22.
With Callisburg playing one of its closest games of the season, Reed said that experience will be invaluable as the Wildcats close out district play.
“It’s huge and we got a little dose of that against Paradise,” Reed said. “I had four timeouts, but I didn’t use one. I was like a riverboat gambler. I felt like our guys got open and took care of the basketball. These kids had a good year last year, but year in and year out, they’ve been kind of beat up on so for them to win this boxing match, I’m proud of them.”