Wizards leave it all on the court in first road loss of 2022
The Wichita Wizards were handed their first defeat of the 2022 season, as they hit the road to take on the Oklahoma Outlaws this weekend. Final score - Outlaws 128 and the Wizards 104.
Despite the final score, the Wizards still managed to maintain their habit of scoring in the triple digits. In fact, the Wichita team took 35 more shots than their opponent and had 24 steals to their 10. However, the Outlaws outrebounded the Wizards 55-to-37, and the Oklahoma team were also 12 of 21 from the three-point range.
"The score might not look like it but we fought hard," said Coach Terry Stucky. "We came back from nearly 30 points down - but we just ran out of gas. By the end of the game, our guys were just worn out."
Tired, yes. But defeated, no.
"Nobody wanted to quit, no one wanted to come out of the game for a few minutes and rest," said Stucky. "They wanted to keep fighting."
"They just shot really well," said Stucky, noting that the Outlaws were also golden from the charity stripe, converting Wizard fouls into free throw points to the tune of 75 percent.
The Wizards, who were only able to travel with eight men due to injuries and family commitments, still had things to be proud of in the loss.
"We represented Wichita very well and we never gave up," said CEO Mark Creed.
Stucky agreed and said his Player of the Game was a prime example of that drive.
Clifton McMillon was the Wizards' Player of the Game for the first time, racking up 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. But, it was more than the numbers that lead the Wizards' staff to select McMillon, it was his work ethic.
"Cliff really played steady and had a great positive attitude the whole game," said Stucky, who added that McMillon helped out on boards and was a leader that stayed positive despite getting tired in the final quarter of the match.
In addition to McMillon's Player of the Game performance, Stucky and the opposing team had praise for 6-foot-1, Parker Austin.
"Parker worked his butt off," laughed Stucky. "And after the game the other players and coaches told me that he needs more minutes - and that's nice to hear. He was battling for rebounds, charging out-of-bounds to save balls - he just was bringing it all every time."
Wizards were led in scoring by Kaelon Gary’s 34 pts, McMillon 16, and Alton Gatling with 15. Wizards next game is away versus the Oklahoma City Servants on May 14, and a home game vs the Tri-State 66ers on Sunday, May 15.