No. 1 Sulphur in rematch; Kingston, Tish clash
A year's worth of results? The pride and glory of an unbeaten regular season, the first in your school's history?
Sulphur coach Toby Todd said to throw them out the window. It won't matter in the Bulldogs' 3A regional matchup against Lexington (16-7) on Thursday.
"Everybody at this point is either 1-0 or 0-1," Todd said. "They talk about us being undefeated, but so is Lexington."
It will be the second time this season that Sulphur faces Lexington, with the Bulldogs coming out with a 53-29 win on Dec. 11.
Todd stated that rematches, and the strategy that goes into them, can prove a mixed bag.
"Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad," Todd said. "You can learn a lot of things that you can correct, but the opposing coach can do that as well so it's a double-edged sword...I think it's always good to have some new stuff ready for the second time."
Of course, expectations are nothing new for Sulphur. Anointed preseason No. 1, the Dawgs have done nothing but excel this season en route to a 24-0 record.
"We said from Day 1 that teams would come after us because of that ranking," Todd said. "At this point, not trying to sound arrogant, but it's old news.
"We've done a good job so far of staying focused and keeping our minds right, and this one is going to be no different."
Another squad that will be looking to keep momentum going is No. 6 Plainview (21-3). The Indians are fresh off a dominant win over Comanche, its ninth straight win.
"We preach about playing our best going into the playoffs and I feel like we're doing that," Plainview coach Andy Bloodworth said. "We're playing really confidently and hitting our stride right now."
The Indians will travel to face Washington on its home court, after the Warriors surprised Jones in districts. Plainview certainly has experience with Washington, as last year's squad was bounced from the playoffs by the Warriors.
"They have a tradition there that includes, I think, three state titles," Bloodworth said. "Traveling up there to play them at their place will certainly be a challenge."
Speaking of challenges, the No. 9 Tishomingo (18-6), who took a surprising loss to Hugo in districts and now must fight to keep its season alive against Kingston, who was a shot away from upsetting Davis in the first round.
Kingston and Tish faced each other earlier this season, with the Indians emerging from the contest with a narrow 37-31 win.
This time, the stakes are much higher; win and go on. Lose and go home.
"We played them well and close the first time, so we feel confident," Kingston coach Eric Hardison said. "The sense of urgency has been good in practice this week."
Tishomingo coach Boyd Houser said much the same about his own team, which has seen a strange twist of fate.
After spending almost the entire season as a staple of the top 10, Tish has suffered some hiccups in the past two weeks, dropping three of its last four games, including its regular season finale to Davis before suffering a 56-38 setback at the hands of Hugo.
"The bottom line on Hugo is that they're a really athletic basketball team and we got a tough draw," Houser said. "In all reality, we were the only top 10 team to draw a team with a record over .500.
"But we can't worry about that now."
Houser is certainly right about that. The playoffs are not for displays of mercy.
They are for celebrations of victory.
"They know if we don't take care of business, we're done," Houser said. "The ultimate goal is the state tournament, this year and every year, and they understand what has to be done."
Meanwhile, the Wolves (15-6) will have an opportunity to keep a good thing going, facing the same Hugo squad that toppled Tish last week.
Davis has turned heads down the stretch, utilizing a strong defensive gameplan in a sterling debut for first-year head coach Jeff Brown.
"We've got a lot of momentum right now, and these girls believe in themselves," Brown said. "We'll just have to go out and play our best game."
Marietta's girls (6-17) open with Kingfisher in the first round. Marietta coach Jason Schrader could not be reached on Tuesday.