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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Sulphur into Final Four again with 65-46 rout of Lindsay

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  • OKLAHOMA CITY — On a night when No. 1 Sulphur didn't necessarily play its best, Bailee Eldred still made sure it was enough.
    The sophomore paced the Bulldogs with a brutally efficient 17-point performance, knocking down 6 of 8 shots from the field as Sulphur (28-0) earned a workman-like 65-46 victory over Lindsay Thursday night at the State Fair Arena.
    Four Sulphur starters finished with double-digit points, as seniors Tierani Richardson (16 points), Ashley Hughes (15) and Ebony Harrison (10) each made their mark.
    "To see everybody step up on the offensive end like that was really big for us," Sulphur coach Toby Todd said.
    No one will accuse the Leopardettes of crumbling in the moment; Lindsay was confident and aggressive early, knocking down 66 percent of its shots and playing defense well enough to keep Sulphur on its toes.
    "They were hitting a lot of shots, we had some defensive breakdowns and that let them stay in it early," senior point guard Ashley Hughes said.
    But the Bulldogs showed off a resilience the squad has rarely needed this year, taking Lindsay's best body blows and delivering a late haymaker with a Hughes 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that gave Sulphur a 34-27 lead.
    "We didn't shoot the ball really well and they did early," Todd said. "I'm proud of them for hanging in there, buckling down and doing what they had to do."
    In the third quarter, it was Richardson's turn to take the reins on offense, nailing two treys en route to nine-point quarter that finished with the Dawgs leading 48-38.
    "Shooters keep shooting," Todd said. "We were fortunate enough to set her up in better position in the second half and she took advantage of it."
    But through it all, Eldred was a revelation. Showing off a combination of savvy post maneuvers and raw athleticism, the sophomore was a clinic at the forward position all night, with the defense to match her scoring.
    "All year long, I said she was the X-Factor," Todd said. "And she came out tonight and played a phenomenal game on a big stage."
    At the end of the night, what mattered is that even when its opponent was playing its best, the Dawgs could still win a state tournament quarterfinal without it.
    Not that Hughes expects a repeat performance tonight against Adair, when the two square off at 7:30 for a shot in the state championship.
    Adair, also unbeaten at 28-0, defeated Sequoyah-Tahlequah in the quarterfinals 61-39.
    "I think we had a little bit of jitters tonight," Hughes said. "But we know we just have to go out and play our game against whoever is next."
    Follow White on Twitter: @swhiteARD

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