EDMOND — Against Class 5A No. 2 Deer Creek, Ardmore met a team that has the caliber to go all the way to the state championship.
The Antlers took down the Tigers 61-35 in the regional championship on Saturday, outscoring Ardmore (11-13) 19-2 in the third quarter to pull away. Patrice Bennett led Ardmore with 11 points and Kevi Davis added six, but the Tigers struggled for offense against Deer Creek's stout defense.
"They're long and that caused us some problems," Ardmore coach Kevin Kelly said. "Their length gave us issues all night long, whether it was with the pressure or the man-to-man defense, we struggled getting looks.
"They're a very good basketball team, and it's something to look at, learn from and move on."
Deer Creek converted 19 of 22 from the line to Ardmore's 10 of 14, trumping any impact the Tigers made from free throws.
Despite the loss, Ardmore still advances to the area tournament. Ardmore will play the loser of Saturday's Carl Albert-Del City game in the first round of area this week.
"We're learning how to play championship basketball," Kelly said. "It's a good experience for our group. The good thing is we live to play another day."