OKLAHOMA CITY — Ashley Hughes could no longer hold it in.

A portrait of self-control and stoicism during a long season, the senior point guard burst into tears in the seconds following Sulphur's 42-34 win over Perkins-Tryon in Saturday's Class 3A state championship game.

"I got a little emotional out there," Hughes said afterwards. "I was pretty overwhelmed at that point."

For Hughes and the rest of her senior class, it was the culmination of a year's work; waking up at the crack of dawn to do conditioning drills, spending hours after practice in the Sulphur gym working on the little things that create the championship product the Bulldogs displayed in controlled maulings of previously unbeaten Adair and Perkins-Tryon.

"I think today validated everything we did to get ready for this year," Hughes said. "It makes it feel like it was all worth it."

Sulphur coach Toby Todd, in the aftermath of the victory, could barely restrain tears of his own when discussing his seniors.
"They mean a lot not only to this team and program, but to our community, to me and my family," Todd said. "They're kind of indescribable."

Each played a crucial part during the season, and the basketball fans of Oklahoma were finally allowed to see it shine on the biggest stage, in the Big House.

Hughes dashed and darted throughout, her usually dangerous self in the capping contest of her All-State season and all-time career.

But there too, was Tierani Richardson, the smallest player on the floor, forcing three steals and nailing two first-half 3-pointers. She will leave Sulphur as one of the best 3-point shooters in the history of the school.

A former Plainview player, Richardson gave up her sophomore season when she transferred to Sulphur.

"She came into a situation that was probably really difficult for her," Todd said. "But I can't say enough about her attitude and determination ... nobody talks about how many points she scored at her size."

At the other end of the floor was Ebony Harrison, who stands 5-foot-9 on a good day, outhustling and outworking girls taller and bigger, patrolling the paint with the ferocity of a jackal and making Perkins-Tryon's celebrated post duo look ordinary for most of the afternoon.

"Week after week after week, she was outsized but made up for it with her quickness," Todd said.

There was Darsha Reagle, one of the headiest and most self-aware guards in the state working as a seamless cog of the Sulphur offense that could not run without her.

"She's an unsung hero ... I love Darsha," Todd said. "Not a lot of flash or publicity goes to her, but she's a huge vital part of what we did on offense and it wouldn't run without her."

Alone, any of them would be among the best players on any team in the state.

Together, they are the foundation of one of the best teams this state has ever produced.

"One of the special things about this team was the mental aspect," Todd said. "Their ability to stay focused, one game at a time, to do the little things right in almost a compulsive manner.

"That's evident in how they played."

Spencer White