Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nate Mullendore powers Holland Hall past El Reno in 5A boys; Carl Albert eliminates Tahlequah

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NORMAN — Nate Mullendore is rarely in the spotlight for Holland Hall due to Jadon Cool or Carter Benton usually leading the scoring.

But Mullendore, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, can often be the Dutch’s most valuable player.

On Wednesday, Mullendore had team-highs of 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the East No 3 Dutch past West No. 3 El Reno 51-36 in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at Lloyd Noble Center.

Holland Hall (22-4) advances to meet West No. 1 Midwest City Carl Albert (22-5) in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Carl Albert advanced with a 62-50 victory over East No. 11 Tahlequah. In the late games, Del City defeated Edison 49-40 and Memorial beat OKC Southeast 70-45.

Cool added 12 points and Benton scored 10 for the Dutch, a state tournament qualifier for the fifth year in a row, but for the first time in 5A since being moved up two months ago. Mullendore’s previous two games in the 4A state tournament ended with heartbreaking losses in the last seconds.

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“It was a great game, but we’re not finished yet,” Mullendore said.

Mullendore, a tenacious rebounder and defender, is especially important to the Dutch when its not shooting well — and that was the case for the third consecutive game. Holland Hall shot 43% from the field, was 3-of-12 on 3s and only 12-of 25 on free throws, but held El Reno to 27% from the field and 2-of-15 on 3s.

“When we lost him (on fouls) in the Edison game in the third quarter (of the Area final) I wasn’t sure we could win,” Dutch coach Teddy Owens said. “To have him a full game makes a huge difference. He’s 6-1 but plays like he’s 6-8. I’ve never coached a kid with more heart and with more resiliency and toughness than Nate Mullendore. His knee has been bothering him for two years and he’s just toughed it out.

“When our guys run (in practice), he’s on the side doing pushups, so he’s not putting any extra on his knee. He loves his teammates so much and cares about his team. He’s willing to play through anything. He’s all heart. When we need a bucket, we go to Nate. He’s our highest efficiency guy and he’s so tough and he loves that challenge. He is so tough with pressure on him.”

The Dutch led by 10 at halftime despite some pregame adversity.

“We got into a little bit of traffic only 45 minutes before the game,” Owens said. “I’m so proud of our guys, they didn’t flinch in the deal and at halftime we didn’t have to make adjustments because we were already doing a great job defensively.”

Holland Hall then shut out El Reno 12-0 in the third quarter for a 40-18 lead. Mullendore scored six points in the third while El Reno was 0-for-10 from the field.

“When we really come together, play defensively, we’re a great team,” Mullendore said. “We all help each other, we all feed off each other. We’ve just got to lock in.”

The Dutch made only 2-of-8 shots from the field and 7-of-14 free throws in the final period, but El Reno didn’t get closer than 11 points.

“Defensively I thought we were really good,” Owens said “If we can start clicking offensively, I think we can make a real run at this. But we give ourselves a shot regardless because of our defense.”

Carl Albert 62, Tahlequah 50: Ryan Reynolds was 6-of-11 on 3s as he led Carl Albert with 22 points and Quincy Hopkins added 15. Hayden Smith paced Tahlequah (14-12) with 19 points and 17 rebounds.

HOLLAND HALL 51, EL RENO 36

Holland Hall;16;12;12;11;—;51

El Reno: C. Roman Nose 11, Tofpi 10, Reveles 7, E. Roman Nose 4, Elizondo 2, Robertson 2.

Holland Hall: Mullendore 13, Cool 12, Benton 10, Wilson 8, Thompson 4, Taber 3, Levine 1.

CARL ALBERT 62, TAHLEQUAH 50

Tahlequah;12;10;12;16;—;50

Carl Albert;16;19;11;16;—62

Tahlequah: H. Smith 19, D. Smith 10, McAlvain 7, B. Smith 6, Wooldridge 5., Guerrero 3.

Carl Albert: Reynolds 22, Hopkins 15, Mott 11, England 8, Dequasie 4, Russell 2.

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