No. 9 Sooners hold off feisty TCU, 28-24

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN – As Brendan Radley-Hiles strolled into the endzone and stared up at the screaming fans, the biggest play of his college career was not the only thing on his mind. Even though the sophomore safety had helped keep Oklahoma’s season alive, he had other things on his mind as well.

Radley-Hiles, also known as Bookie, closed out the Sooners 28-24 win over TCU Saturday with an interception in the final seconds at Memorial Stadium.

“All I could think about was my cousin. My cousin recently passed away,” Radley-Hiles said. “His funeral was today and I wasn’t able to go. So I felt as if that play right there was just him playing through me.”

The victory secured a spot in the Big 12 Championship game and still keeps them in position to snag a third straight trip to the College Football Playoffs.

“Great win,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln said. “This one was significant for so many reasons. What they have an opportunity to do in the next couple of weeks is very special. Rare even for a place like this.”

With just over three minutes left in the game, Oklahoma had the ball and a 4th and one situation on the 40-yard line. Leading by four points, Riley decided to go for it, but they got stuffed and turned the ball over on downs.

TCU took over with 3:16 left to make it down the field for the go-ahead score. However, the Horned Frogs found themselves with their own fourth down call.

It was a no-brainer for TCU coach Gary Patterson as they needed to pick up the 4th and 11 if they had any chance of stealing the win.

Freshman quarterback Max Duggan dropped back to pass and had plenty of time to spot a receiver. He tried to hit his man over the middle, but Radley-Hiles picked off Duggan to end the threat.

Radley Hiles then led a caravan of Sooners down into the endzone to celebrate and pose for the fans.

“For Bookie to come up with a play like that it’s huge because you know that completely changed the momentum of the game,” cornerback Patrick Fields said. “You know it’s a good thing because we see kind of all of our hard work paying off with a play like that.”

Despite the third dramatic win in as many weeks, Oklahoma once again realize they are putting themselves in a position to lose these games.

One of the biggest issues was turnovers. They gave the ball away three times to TCU. That included two from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter. Both were in the redzone.

“I am not going to say that we do not have to do better with that,” Riley said. “A guy that is handling the ball making as many decisions that he has to make, you obviously don’t want to have the one down in the red zone.”

Hurts finished the night with 145 yards passing and two touchdowns on 11 of 21 passing. He also accounted for 192 yards rushing and another two scores on 28 carries.

Kennedy Brooks tallied 149 yards on 25 carries. Charleston Rambo led all receivers with 77 yards on six catches. After sitting out last week, CeeDee Lamb had only two catches, but one was for a touchdown

“We’re appreciating (tough wins) but at the same time we want to win in a better style than what we’re doing right now,” Rambo said. “Four points is not the best but it’s hard to get a win regardless so we came out on top.”

Oklahoma started the night with the textbook opening possession. Behind some big runs from Brooks, Hurts lunged into the endzone to cap a 10 play, 7-yard scoring drive.

Oklahoma came back on their next possession to put together a five-play drive that ended with Hurts connecting with Brayden Willis for a 20- yard touchdown pass.

Oklahoma held a 14-0 advantage after the first quarter. That included outgaining the Horned Frogs 183-3 in the opening 15 minutes.

Yet, Oklahoma wasn’t done. They start the second quarter with another long drive right through the middle of the TCU defense. But this time it was Lamb who ended up in the endzone after catching a 5-yard touchdown.

It was Lamb’s 32nd career touchdown catch, which moved him into second all-time in program history.

With Oklahoma leading 21-0, they were forced to punt for the first time early in the second quarter. On TCU made the Sooners pay with a 68-yard drive that put them on the board with a 1 TD run.

After a fumble by Oklahoma freshman Jadon Haselwood near midfield, TCU had to settle for a 24-yard field goal and closed the deficit to 21-10 at halftime.

After the Horned Frogs began the second half with a touchdown drive, the pressure was on the Not wanting to see a Baylor style collapse, they needed a response.

That is exactly what they got. Hurts carried half the TCU defense into the endzone to close out a six-play possession, which put the Sooners up by 11.

Oklahoma was driving deep into the Horned Frogs territory looking to go up by 18 points. However, Hurts threw an INT that was picked off at the 2-yard line and returned 98 yards for the score, which closed the gap to four points.

“Well you don’t ever want to turn the ball over, especially in the redzone,” Hurts said. “It happens. Just gotta learn from it and move forward.”

Next up for the Sooners is their regular-season finale. Saturday OU makes a trip to Stillwater for Bedlam against a surging Oklahoma State (8-3) squad.

“Right now all the focus is going to go towards Bedlam and Oklahoma State. Going into Stillwater with a lot of goals intact,” Riley said. “It is exciting. I still know that our best ball is out there and our team feels like that too. We are going to go try to work our tails off and put it all together.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider



Lakers outlast fiesty Thunder, again

By Michael Kinney

Oklahoma City has too many talented players on its roster to accept moral victories. Even when facing the best team in the league (record-wise), they do not feel they can settle for just playing a team tough.

However, in two games against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Los Angeles Lakers this week, the Thunder took them to the brink of defeat before falling sort.

The latest matchup came Friday night in Oklahoma City. Once again, the Thunder had their chances to steal the victory in the final seconds, but the star-studded Lakers held on for the 130-127 win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“I wouldn’t do anything differently,” Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson said. “We were moving the ball, sharing the ball, making the right plays, hitting open shots, finding the right man. We were playing good basketball, like I said, when we came back. It just wasn’t enough.”

With 2:26 left in the game, the Lakers led 122-121. Los Angeles forward Anthony Davis was fouled by Steven Adams while hitting a 3-pointer from the corner. The free throw gave L.A. a five point advantage.

Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cut the lead down to 126-123 with a midrange jumper with 1:44 left in the contest. The Thunder got the ball back and had a chance to tie the game or get the score to within one, but Thunder guard Ferguson turned the ball over trying to get a pass to Danilo Gallinari in the post.

The two teams went scoreless for more than a minute and half. It wasn’t until Chris Paul converted a finger roll layup with 11.8 seconds that Oklahoma City was able to cut the deficit to 126-125.

The Thunder had to foul at that point and sent Davis to the free throw line twice. He responded by making all four attempts to keep L.A (13-2) ahead by three.

“It’s something I work on all the time and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free throws,” Davis said. “I worked at it a lot on putting myself at the line for situations like that and so just going up there and know your routine. Just going up there and being poised, having confidence in your shot.”

Oklahoma City’s last attempt to get the ball down court to set up a game-tying shot turned into a turnover when Gallinari’s pass was stolen by James to end the night.

Davis led all scorers with 33 points. he also grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out seven assists and was 11 for 11 from the foul line.

James added 23 points, six rebounds and 14 assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pop added 17 points.

“For me it’s just kind of read and react,” James said of playing with Davis. “We both play off one another. You know AD has the ability to pop, he has the ability to roll and it’s my job to put the ball on time and on target no matter what he does.”

Gilgeous-Alexander paced Oklahoma City with 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Adams posted 22 points but was held to only six boards. Paul chipped in with 18 points and seven assists.

“I think he has had to battle some different things, injury-wise, that has kind of maybe set him back a little bit, but I think he’s getting healthier and healthier, and it was good to see him go out and play the way he did today,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said of Adams. “I thought he did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor for us and was a factor and a force out there.”

Playing without Nerlens Noel (sick), the Thunder (5-10) lost the rebound battle 45-37 and hit seven fewer 3-pointers than the Lakers. Yet, they were in the game until the buzzer.

“I think they made it an emphasis coming out of the half trying to get up the court faster,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “They are at their best when they play that way. I think they just tried to do so a little bit more in that third quarter.”

Oklahoma City got off to a strong start to the night. Behind 15 points from the bench, the Thunder trailed 34-33 after one quarter of action.

Darius Bazely and Hamidou Diallo and was particularly aggressive on the offensive end for Oklahoma City. They were able to use their athletic ability to get to the basket for easy dunks.

That all changed in the third quarter. The Lakers came out of the locker room looking like the team with the best record in the league.

James and Davis spearheaded the L.A. charge. Using a 13-1 run  the Lakers raced out to a 94-79 advantage midway through the quarter.

However, the Thunder would go away. They clawed back to get within three at 106-103 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final stanza, things got testy. Lakers guard Rajon Rondo was ejected after being called for kneeing Dennis Schroder in the groin. It was his second technical.

A few minutes later, Diallo had to be helped off the floor after injuring his left arm guarding James on a drive to the basket.

“You find a way to win no matter what the game is,” James said. “This is a very good team at home. They struggled on the road a little bit, but we knew we were going to get their best punch, especially after just playing them on Tuesday in L.A. So anytime you play a team in back-to-back situation in the same week, you know you’re going to get their best punch. And we got that, and we still were able to get the win.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners prepare for TCU without a key offensive weapon

By Michael Kinney

The Oklahoma Sooners will close out the home portion of the schedule Saturday night when they host TCU in Big 12 action.

Oklahoma will be shorthanded on offense when they take on the Horned Frogs. They were already without tailback Trey Sermon, who is out for the season with an injury. But on Thursday, tight end Grant Calcaterra announced he was retiring from football due to multiple concussions he has sustained during his career.

“Over a month ago, I received a concussion in practice,” Calcaterra said in an emotional video on Twitter. “What most of you may not know, is that I have had my fair share of concussions in my career. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that it would best for me to step away from the game. Football has been the biggest thrill in my life and it kills me to know it’s over.”

Calcaterra said he will be heading back to California to become a firefighter. He leaves with 637 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

“This has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life,” Calcaterra said. “To Sooner Nation, and everyone who’s been apart of my journey, I thank you again so much for making my career to memorable. I gave everything to this team and this game.”

. It will be the final game at Memorial Stadium this season and the final home game for the senior class.

For players like senior defensive back Parnell motley, it is hard to imagine his journey at OU has almost come to an end

“Two years ago I was just playing my first game here, Motley said. “I just kind f had flashbacks on how things went. How it could have been better. I can’t change yesterday, but I can definitely change today.”

That means closing out the regular season strong. That starts with TCU, who usually plays the Sooners tough.

All this senior class has to do is look back to 2015 when TCU came into Norman and also took a victory from them. But a failed 2-point conversion in the final seconds secured the win for the Sooners.

With two games left in the regular season and a possible Big 12 Championship game, the seniors know they still have a lot to play for as they close out their careers.

“I’m trying to soak it all in,” senior Nick Basquine said. “It helps having everything in front of us, knowing we can still win championships and achieve our goals. But you kind of see things along the way and say, ‘Dang, I’m really toward the end.”

Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Which defense will show up for Oklahoma going forward?

By Michael Kinney

Before Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto came up with the game-sealing interception that knocked off No. 13 Baylor Saturday night, fellow linebacker DaShaun White was having a conversation. The sophomore was exchanging theories with the players on the Baylor bench on just how the game was going to end.

Obviously, the Bears believed their quarterback Charlie Brewer was going to lead the offense down the field to either tie the game or win it outright. And for a good majority of game, they would have had every reason to believe that would be the case.

But, according to White, the Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1) defense the Bears had shredded in the first half was not the one on the field during that final drive. And he was making sure they knew it.

“Ironically, I had gotten into a little scuffle with their sideline. I was talking trash because just a few plays before I was actually sitting on the out and I think (Ronnie) Perkins sacked him. I was telling them ‘don’t throw the out, don’t throw the out.’ The very next play, they completed the out. They started talking back. Then Nik drops a pick, then he picks off the out and I went right back over there.”

The tenth-ranked Sooners 34-31 victory over the Bears (9-1, 6-1) saw them claw back from 25 points down to claim their biggest comeback win in program history. While the night and day performance of Heisman hopeful Jalen Hurts garnered much of the national attention, the comeback was fueled by the play of the Sooner’s beleaguered defensive unit.

“Give our kids credit, they made so many phenomenal plays,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “It would have been easy to pack up the tent tonight.”

However, days later, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was still stymied with the way his unit showed up in the first half of the ball game. They allowed the Bears to roll up 28 points and 238 yards before halftime.

‘Obviously, we didn’t do a good job of weathering the storm,” Grinch said of the first half. “And from an execution standpoint, it was selective execution. Which is really, really disappointing. I’m in charge of it. In the moment, we are not getting 11 guys on every single snap doing the appropriate thing to give ourselves a chance. It’s a hard film to watch. It’s embarrassing. It’s on me. We have to be better.”

Yet, after the break, it was an entirely new squad on the field. And the spark was ignited by the unit doing something it hadn’t done all season.

On Baylor’s opening drive of the third quarter, OU senior cornerback Parnell Motley forced a fumble which Patrick Fields recovered in front of the Sooners bench. It was officially the first turnover of the season for the defense.

The entire Oklahoma bench exploded in excitement seemingly knowing that that was a turning point.

“It was very satisfying, especially for this defense,” Motley said. “Especially, to get that energy, that unwavering energy that we’ve been preaching on all weekend. It set the edge of the game. It was great we got it in the second half. It set a good tone on their first drive. From there, we never looked back and fed off that energy.”

The Sooners went on to hold Baylor to 69 total yards and 3 points in the second half. Every time they were able to get a stop, it gave Hurts and the Oklahoma offense a chance to cut into the lead until they took the lead with 1:45 left in the contest.

Then, with the game on the line, it was the defense that made the biggest play of the Sooners’ season with Bonitto’s game-clinching interception off Brewer.

But now the question remains is which OU defense will show up not just against TCU Saturday but for the rest of the season to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

“Personally, I think it’s all practice habits,” White said. “I think what happened these last few games just caught up to us for not being a consistent enough practice team. I think if we just practice our tails off every day, really focus in on what our assignment is, really honing in on getting that done every single play, I think we can really see the results we want to see.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Despite tragedy, Patriots still battling


By Michael Kinney

Bryson Ford had never played quarterback at Southwest Covenant. When the season started, he technically wasn’t even on the depth chart.

That all changed Friday. Due to a serious of injuries, Ford was called upon to start at quarterback in the opening round of the Class C playoffs for SWC as they hosted Webber Falls. Despite his inexperience, Ford accounted for six touchdowns to help lead the Patriots to a 50-18 win over the Warriors at Taylor Park.

When coach Trey Cloud was asked if Ford is his quarterback of the future, his response showed just what the Patriots have been through this season.

“That’s my fifth-string quarterback,” Cloud said.

Ben Webb, who had guided the Patriots to a 10-0 record, suffered a devastating knee injury the week before. Backup quarterback Anderson Davis had a broken hand and was also unable to get under center.

That left Ford to take over as the Patriots signal-caller. It was a position he had never played before, but as the game wore on, he looked like a veteran at times.

“He did well. He just managed the game for us,” Cloud said. “He made some throws when he had to make some. He missed some, but that’s going to happen. He made the ones he had to make. He did well.”

It was SWC’s defense though who made the opening statement of the night. With Webber driving on their opening possession, the Patriots Will Hass picked off a deflected pass in the endzone and returned the interception to midfield.

Four plays later, Blake Riddell reached the endzone on a one-yard dive to give Southwest Covenant a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Warriors tried to respond on the ensuing drive, but the Patriot’s defense forced a fumble, which Hass recovered.

The turnover set up another Riddell touchdown run. This time he sprinted along the sideline for a 31-yard scamper before going untouched into the endzone.

Webber Falls was unable to get their offense going. The Patriots defensive front of Grayson Reuter, Andrew Arnould, Andrew Hickman and Anthony Cox lived in the Warrior’s backfield as they keyed on Josh Mason.

“That’s going to be our strength now, defense,” Cloud said. “We are going to try and do that each and every week no matter what we have to do that.

While Southwest Covenant was unable to connect in its passing game early on, that didn’t matter. Ford used his legs to break a few tackles at the line of scrimmage on his way to a 30 yard TD run.

But then Ford seemed to collect himself and got the passing game rolling. He hit a wide-open Cox for a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up 24-0 with 2:22 left in the first half.

The Patriots shutout was ruined when Mason returned a kickoff 67 yards for a score.

But SWC answered right back with Ford’s second touchdown pass of the night. He hit Cole Gatlin near the goalline, who then barreled his way through a defender and into the endzone for a 30-6 advantage.

With 30 seconds left in the half, Hickman and Arnould crushed Mason and forced the ball out.  It was recovered by Cox at the 40-yard line. However, two plays later, Riddell was on his way to the endzone when a defender knocked the ball loose and the Warriors pounced on it.

The Patriots opened up the second half looking to put the Warriors away. Ford hit Hass in the flat for a short pass. Hass then turned on the jets and sprinted 50 yards into the endzone.

Ford threw two more touchdowns to Haas and Cox to close out the night and push the Patriots into the second round of the playoffs. They will face Timberlake Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Taylor Park

The victory over Webber did more than just keep their title hopes alive. It was a life lesson that Cloud had been preaching to his team since the on the field death of sophomore Peter Webb in September.

“We know better than anybody else that life is hard. This season has sucked honestly,” Cloud said. “But we don’t give up when it sucks. And it’s bigger than football guys. This is real life stuff. You don’t give up because stuff in life is not going to be fun. But you have to push through. And guess what, you guys get to do this together. That’s what it’s about.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Thunder creating smiles at Positive Tomorrow


Photos by Michael Kinney

By Michael Kinney

Shai Gilgeous -Alexander is a pretty competitive player. When he is on an NBA court, the second-year pro puts everything he has into helping the Oklahoma City Thunder win.

However, recently, Gilgeous-Alexander put his competitive drive to the ultimate test and it had nothing to do with basketball. Gilgeous-Alexander was asked to win a cupcake for a small child and he vowed not to leave until he got that cupcake.

“One of the kids at the cake walk made sure I got them a chocolate cupcake,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “And they were not letting me leave until I got him one. I ended up getting him one, so it was pretty cool. Took 10 minutes.”

Gilgeous-Alexander was part of the Oklahoma City Thunder contingent who visited the school Positive Tomorrow Nov. 14 as part of their annual Holiday Assist Program. Almost all of the players were on hand as they played games, made cookies and painted faces with 70 kids in Pre-K through sixth grade at a Thanksgiving celebration.

What made this trip a little different than a normal school visit is that Positive Tomorrow is a school for homeless children. It’s Oklahoma’s only elementary school specifically for homeless children and provides services and education to help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

“Positive Tomorrow is a social service agency that works with the needs of homeless families,” said Susan Agel, the President & CEO of Positive Tomorrow. “Our primary program is that of a private school, which works with the children from those families. We work with the kids to get them up to speed academically and socially. They bounce around so much that they have a very difficult time in school. Most of them don’t like school. So we work with that from a trauma-informed perspective.”

The Thunder arrived on the same day that the students were able to step into their new 42,000-square-foot facility that will house the students starting Dec. 2. The building, which broke ground last spring, came at a cost of $15 million. According to Positive Tomorrow’s Jamie Hadwin, $10.5 million came from private funding and the rest from tax credits.

Thunder center Steven Adams was immensely impressed with the new building and the people who stepped up to fund it.

“This whole place is amazing,” Adams said. “I just took a little tour. I was interested in the whole structure. They raised $15 million for it. So it’s just good to have that security behind it. Seems like the system around these kids is going to be really great.”

According to Agel, there are more than 3,000 homeless children in the Oklahoma City Public School District and another 4,500 in the Putnam City School District.

When those children have a hard time fitting in at public school, they can find themselves getting the help they need at Positive Tomorrow.

“We had a kindergartener who came to our school in January. He walked in and the first thing he said to his teacher was I hate school,” Agel said. “But when you started looking at what had gone on in his life, we were the fourth school he had attended this year. We were the fourth school where he didn’t have school supplies, the fourth school where he had to work through the situation of his teacher realizing how far behind he was, it was the fourth school where he didn’t know the rules. I would hate school to. It’s just really tough for a lot of our kids.”

But according to Agel, they do not want Positive Tomorrow to be a school where children go to forever. So, in order to make sure that doesn’t happen they have to work with nit just educating the students, but helping the entire family

“We’re working with families, we’re working with mom and dad and help them find housing, help them to make sure income is coming in, help them identify their own goals,” Agel said. “It’s our goal for the family to become stable. Once they have been stable and have that way for a while, then we will help move the children back into public schools. We want the family to be normal. To be like anyone else and contributing to society. That’s our goal.”

But on the day the Thunder players arrived, none of that seemed to matter. The kids were running around and trying to show off for Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Nerlens Noel, Dennis Schroder and the entire team. Just to be able to spend time with people they can only have the chance to watch on TV meant something special in that moment.

“A lot of these kids didn’t have the opportunities that we had and the opportunities that a lot of kids get,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “For us to give them this moment was pretty cool. We’re in positions that not a lot of people get to be in. And for us to just use our light, I should say, and share with the rest of the community, it’s always amazing. That’s a big thing for me.”

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Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Thunder mark anniversary of tragic day in state history


By Michael Kinney

The start of the Oklahoma City Thunder 2019-20 season has had its hiccups. With major departures from the roster, the franchise has been slow to find their rhythm on the court.

However, the Thunder showed this week that no matter what they are doing in the wins and loss column, they are still a vital part of the community and state.

Before the Thunder faced the Orlando Magic on Nov. 5, the franchise held a special ceremony to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

To honor those who lost their lives on that fateful April 19 day in 1995, 168 family members and survivors of the bombing traveled from around Oklahoma and eight other states to be on hand.

They were led to the center of the court where they held up the new City Edition Thunder jerseys with the names of the victims and the number 95 on the back. On the jersey, the phrase “We Remember Those Who Were Changed Forever April 19, 1995” stitched on to it.

The family members ranged in age from 11-90 and included husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, grandkids, sisters and brothers.

The Thunder lined up on the court just a few feet away and watched the ceremony.

“It was amazing. Just a ten out of ten,” Steven Adams said. “It’s just unbelievably special and obviously the Thunder does a good job of showing us the memorial. It’s just something different, it’s absolutely amazing and the memorial does a really good job of paying respect to those who lost their lives. They’re not forgotten and the Thunder does a really good job of keeping them alive in that way. It was touching, mate.”

Adams, along with Andre Roberson is the longest-tenured member of the Thunder still with the team. So he knows how impactful the terrorist attack was on the state of Oklahoma and how it continues to build from it.

However, as point guard Chris Paul pointed out, several members of the team weren’t even alive when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed. So for them, this ceremony was their first true interaction with the story.

“That’s tough because for a lot of guys on our team, some of them weren’t even born then and for me, I was 10 years old and I remember that. I remember being at school and everything,” said Paul. “So it’s tough, and then playing here my first two years knowing how much that event impacted the city.”

As the family members stood on the court, a video was shown overhead that detailed the destruction and the rebirth of the city that came from it. Several of the survivors could be seen wiping tears from their eyes as the video played.

But it was when jazz singer Ernestine Dillard walked out and sang God Bless America that the emotions started to come to the surface. Despite still recovering from a stroke and the death of her husband, she put everything she had into the performance.

Dillard performed at the original memorial service for the bombing victims on April 23rd, 1995.

The City Edition jerseys will be worn by the Thunder several more times this season. But each of the family members who were on the court was able to keep the jerseys they held up.

For Ivan Martinez, who was just 10 days old when he lost his dad in the bombing, it will now become a family heirloom and a way to remember his father’s life.

“I’m going to give it to my kid, he’s gonna give it to his or her kid …. so on and so on,” Martinez posted on social media. “It’s gonna be beautiful.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Post Malone rocks out in Oklahoma


Photos by Torrey Purvey/

By Michael Kinney

Special to The The Yukon Review

OKLAHOMA CITY– As I walked into the Chesapeake Energy Arena Nov. 4, I had no idea who Austin Richard Post really was. Yes, I knew of a couple of his songs such as Sunflower, but I didn’t even know what he looked like. I had intended to “Hey, Google” him, but decided to go into it with a blank slate impression.

I didn’t really have high expectations of what type of performance I was going to see at the Runway Tour. But by the end of the night, I came to understand what all the hype was around the unique brand that is Austin Richard Post, AKA Post Malone.

The night started out with a single opening act. Swae Lee, one half of hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd. However, Lee didn’t need his brother to put on an electric performance.

“Oklahoma, yall’s energy is incredible,” Lee yelled to the fans early in the night.

For nearly an hour, Lee performed a variety of different songs with just him and one dancer on stage. His set included Close To Me, Won’t be Late and Unforgettable.

Lee made several trips into the audience where he gave out hugs handshakes and sung to fans. His performance was good enough to be the main act on many tours, but it was just a taste of what the more than 13,000 fans on hand came to see.

After a 30 minute intermission, it was Post Malone’s turn. On a long stage built to look like a runway, he didn’t waste any time turning up the energy and the volume with Hollywood’s Bleeding from his chart-topping album of the same name.

Just to show how much of a phenomenon he has become, after its first six weeks on the charts this fall, Post moved 85,000 album units, comprising 8,600 actual album sales and 94.1 million song streams.

The rest of Post Malone’s setlist included Goodbyes, Die for Me, I Fall Apart and White Iverson.

Just to show off his skills, Post Malone also pulled out a guitar and performed “Stay” acoustically.

To close out the night, Post Malone brought Swae Lee back out onto the stage to perform their hit Sunflower, which was on the soundtrack to the film “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.”

All told, Post was on stage for nearly two hours straight, by himself. No band, no dancers, no elaborate gimmicks. It was basically just a man and his mic singing about broken hearts, lost loves and life.

Post dedicated many of his 20 songs on his setlist to those who have been hurt by love. But he also talked about the hardships of making his career. When he got to White Iverson, Post Malone told the crowd, this was the song that took him from sleeping in his car to living his dreams.

As I mentioned, I had no clue what to expect when I first walked into the arena. But now I do. Covered in tattoos, he is a one-man hurricane of energy and passion that knows how to give everything to his fans while on stage and in his music.

“Words cannot explain how grateful and how blessed I am to be able to come here on a night where there is no hate, there’s no, there’s no violence,” Post said. “There is just love. No matter what is going on with me, being able to come out here and sing these songs with y’all, saves my life every day. I just want to say thank y’all.”

Post Malone’s final song of the night was his hit Congratulations. But he had a few words to those that doubted he would ever sell out arenas across the country as he did in Oklahoma.

“Whenever White Iverson came out, my life changed in a positive way. But it also changed in a negative way.” Post said. “There were people that wanted to talk down to me, call me every name under the sun. Call me a one-hit-wonder. It’s OK, because those same (people) are the same ones who see me walking down the street and they always put out their hands to say congratulations!!!”


Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider


Thunder staying optimistic about slow start


By Michael Kinney

The first full week of the NBA season has been a frustrating one for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As they head into Saturday’s afternoon title with New Orleans, they have amassed a 1-4 record.

But what has been confounding is that the Thunder have played well in parts of each game. However, getting a full four quarters of strong basketball has been an issue.

“Obviously we loss against Utah. It was a close game,” guard Dennis Schroder said. “We didn’t finish it out very well. Second game against Washington, they got that win. But I think against Golden State and Houston we did a great job just playing together, being aggressive, everybody just playing with confidence. I think that was a big change. On the defensive end, we’re doing a great job. We just have to do it for 48 minutes.”

Many knew Oklahoma City would struggle with the loss of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant, but a quick glance at the numbers through five games showing that it has been a collapse. They are currently fifth in the league in points allowed at 101.4 ppg. They are also second in rebounds at 50.8.

“It just speaks for what kind of team we are,” Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo said. “We are a team that is going to fight, we’re never going to stop fighting and no matter what the scoreboard says we’re going to come out there and we’re going to keep pushing and keep pushing.”

However, it has been on the offensive end, where they have had their struggles. They are 26th in scoring (102.2), 21st shooting (43.4%) and 26th in three-pointers made per game.

All this adds up to is some very close games for Oklahoma City. Their point differential is 0.7, which means every missed shot, turnover can be the difference between winning and losing.

Yet, veteran guard Chris Paul said now isn’t the time to get frustrated or lose faith in the system. He sees positives in how the team has played.

“I want to win, all the time. I don’t care what the situation is. You know what I mean? But we’re getting better,” Paul said. “I’m working to. It’s never about how I feel personally. It’s how we are as a team. As long as we’re making strides to get better, we know in our locker room that we’re getting better. That’s all that matters.”

At 1-4, the Thunder have the same record after five games as they did to start last season. So they know a turnaround is possible.

Oklahoma City’s struggles have been most glaring when it comes to the fourth quarter. They are averaging 22.6 points a night in fourth, which ranks 26th in the league.

However, Paul says that will turn around. But he wants to make sure they don’t give it up on the other end.

“I‘ve been around long enough to know that I am capable of (closing games out),” Paul said. “But with the depth that we have, I think game in and game out it might be a number of guys. For us, we have to be able to do it defensively. It’s cool to be able to make shots, but when you can make stops defensively, that really gives you an opportunity.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

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