Win and you’re in: Plainview, Sulphur, Marietta, Kingston.
Work to be done: Tishomingo, Davis.
It’s a simple formula in a seemingly 100-piece playoff puzzle. The regional round can be done with quickly for six local teams with a single win or loss on Thursday.
Areas await Plainview, Sulphur, Kingston or Marietta with one win. Tishomingo and Davis have to win three over three days.
Plainview (20-4) enters regionals with the best record among the area’s 3A teams. The Indians get middle-of-the road Washington (11-12), which won its district championship over Jones 70-38.
Should Plainview win, the regional title game will be the real test, as the Indians will likely get No. 6 Stroud (17-5). Plainview enters ranked 12th in 3A, and may actually be a little underrated. The Indians’ four losses this season have come by an average of four points.
Plainview has also shown more diversity in the second half of the season, with players such as Dalton Dillon, Kelton Kelch and Taber Jordan stepping up to take the scoring load off of senior swingman Deric Shelton.
Their defense hasn’t taken off all year long, moving away from its usual full-court pressure to a half-court defense that’s been equally successful.
“We have done something this year that’s been uncharacteristic of the past,” Stewart said of the defensive change. “When you get down in the playoffs, you’re gonna have to be able to pressure in a halfcourt set. We’ve been able to do a real good job of that.”
According to Stewart, Stroud lost its key inside player to a broken foot, which could give the Indians the inside track to a regional championship.
“I think in our regional we’re going to be a team people really have trouble matching up with,” Stewart said. “I think that the pace at which we play is going to be really difficult for a lot of teams to keep up with.”
Sulphur, Marietta have chance at big dogs in regional
Sulphur, one of few teams to beat Plainview this season, gets Lexington in the first round on Thursday. The Bulldogs rebounded from three consecutive losses by pounding Little Axe for a district title.
Sulphur coach Chase Todd said it’s important for his team to take care of business on Thursday. While a loss would hurt, it wouldn’t completely kill the Bulldogs’ chances to advance to areas. A loss to Lexington would drop the Bulldogs into the losers’ bracket against either Holdenville or Valliant — each of whom has struggled this season.
Page 2 of 3 - A win, however, sets up a possible matchup with No. 2 Okemah in the regional final. Todd isn’t looking ahead, however, with Lexington holding the homecourt advantage.
Sulphur will play Lexington at full strength after Jordan Barefoot (concussion) and Haydn Rogers (nose) each picked up injuries against Kingston to close the regular season.
“Lexington is playing much better than the first time we played them,” Todd said. “Plus going to their place and playing on their homecourt is going to be tough.
“We’re kinda focused on Lexington right now.”
While Plainview and Sulphur drew unranked opponents in the first round of regionals, Kingston and Marietta have a tougher road.
If Kingston beats No. 10 Hugo in its opener, it may actually have an easier game in the regional championship against No. 13 Spiro or unranked Antlers.
“It’s definitely a tough game,” “They’re very talented, very well-coached,” Kingston coach Taylor Wiebener said of Hugo. “At some time in the playoffs, you’re gonna have to beat some good teams to move on.
“We look at it as a pretty good opportunity to seem where our program is. We need to see where we fit in the mix of things with some of the better teams in 3A.”
Marietta, meanwhile, gets No. 17 Kingfisher, which has made a living off beating 4A teams this season and attacking the glass. Waiting for the Indians if they win will likely be No. 3 Millwood.
Marietta (15-6) has the speed on the perimeter in Davonte Finch and Tyler Tatum and the size/length combination in the frontcourt TJ Tatum and Tyler Neely to match up with Kingfisher and Millwood. Duane Shaw’s team is coming off a 53-42 win against Lindsay in district play.
“That would be an interesting matchup, it really would,” Shaw said of possibly playing Millwood. “I’d like to see how we’d respond to that challenge. We have to get by Kingfisher first.
“We’re gonna have to do a monumental job of blocking out and rebounding. We’ve got our work cut out for us Thursday.”
Davis vs. Tish II
The consolation bracket pits two area teams against each other in Tishomingo and Davis. Davis (8-11) won the lone meeting between the teams in overtime to close the regular season.
“We’re probably playing as good as we can right now,” Davis coach David Griffin said. “When Brad (Hetherington) is hitting his threes and Jordyn (Romine) is hitting his inside buckets, we’re pretty tough.
“We played them (Tishomingo) a week or so ago, so now we’re playing at their place. I’m sure it’ll be another close one.”
Page 3 of 3 - Erik K. Horne