SULPHUR — A strong third period and a smothering defense provided a great combination that gave the Sulphur girls a 54-38 victory over Atoka to capture the Class 3A, Area IV Region A championship Saturday night at the jam-packed Bulldog gym.
The Sulphur boys were not as fortunate as they dropped a 67-45 decision to Okemah in the regional championship game. All four teams will move on to area competition this week at a site to be announced.
The Sulphur girls (26-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, struggled a bit with the feisty Wampus Cats in the first half. Atoka took a 10-8 lead after the first period, but the Bulldogs had regrouped enough to assume a 23-21 lead at intermission.
It was the strong third period that carried Sulphur to the regional championship. The Bulldogs, led by seniors Ashley Hughes and Tierani Richardson, completely overwhelmed Atoka in the third. The Bulldogs' defense allowed just five Wampus Cat points.
Hughes scored 11 in the third, and Richardson scored seven as the Bulldogs increased their lead to 41-26 heading into the final period.
Hughes finished with a game-high 28 points, and Richardson had 18 points, including five treys. Atoka (17-8) was led by Makayla Stephens' 15 points, and Shaylynn Bass chipped in 12 points.
"Ashley definitely went into attack mode in the second half," Sulphur coach Toby Todd said. "A lot of our early shots weren't falling, and Ashley led the way for us to make better penetration in the second half. Atoka is a good team, and we knew not to take them lightly.
"We're thankful to win a regional championship, especially in front of our home fans. We're especially happy for our eight seniors who will go out as winners at home."
The boys game got out of hand quickly with Okemah jumping to a 19-6 lead after the opening period and stretching its advantage to 35-20 at halftime. The Panthers (23-3), ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor (26 of 52) to just 15 of 43 (35 percent) for the Bulldogs.
"Okemah is deserving of the No. 2 ranking in the state," Sulphur coach Chase Todd said. "They do a lot of things well. We had hoped to slow the pace of the game down, but that was not possible."
Stoney Newton and John Wingfield led the Panthers with 14 points each. Austin Guinn had 13 points, and Dion Scott chipped in 12.
Ryan Beauchamp paced the Bulldogs with 11 points and Haydn Rogers and McLane Jolly each added nine.