SULPHUR — You can’t teach height, but Sulphur proved it could learn how to overcome it, Saturday night, in the Class 4A District 2 Championship game.
Though Sulphur was hosting the title game, the draw with Bridge Creek wasn’t ideal.
Sulphur’s tallest player is 6-foot-2 center Braezen Flood. Bridge Creek came into the game with four players taller than the senior, including 6-foot-7 center Payton Breedlove.
All season, size has proved to be an Achilles heel for the Bulldogs. But with team defense, boxing out and a physical battle from Flood, the Bulldogs were able to contain Breedlove and the Bridge Creek Bobcats, taking the district championship trophy with a 62-49 win.
Breedlove was held to six points in the first half and finished with 16 after scoring six with the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
“Braezen’s undersized, but he worked his tail off tonight,” Sulphur coach Chase Todd said. “He does all the dirty work for us and he accepts any challenge given to him. Tonight was another challenge, and he turned (Breedlove) into a non-factor.”
While Sulphur set the tone early with the battle in the paint on the defensive end, the first quarter began with an aerial assault for the Bulldogs.
John Jacobs hit a three to give Sulphur a 5-0 lead. On their next possession, Cole Johnson joined the three-point party, hitting a 3-pointer before running back on defense in true Jason Terry fashion as Bridge Creek, down 8-0 within the first two minutes, called an immediate timeout.
Sulphur’s Houston Haines and Jacobs would hit two more threes to close out the first quarter with a 14-10 lead, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
In the second quarter, Sulphur’s hot shooting opened up holes in Bridge Creek’s defense as the Bobcats rushed to close out on three-point shots. Sulphur took advantage, taking a 35-27 lead into halftime.
At the start of the third, the gameplan for Bridge Creek was pretty clear. On the first three possessions, the Bobcats fed the ball to their center in the paint. Breedlove scored four quick points, but Sulphur had an answer.
With its lead reduced to 42-35, Sulphur found another gear.
A backdoor cut and alley-oop layup by Haines started the rally. Tavius Mcdonald picked Bridge Creek’s Mitchell Cooper’s pocket and scooped and scored before Jakub Sharp hit a pair of threes, one at the buzzer to take a 52-40 lead.
In the fourth, Sulphur was able to keep pace with Bridge Creek down the stretch and extend their lead to 13 points.
With 2:30 remaining in the contest, up by 12 and holding a 89 percent free throw percentage in the game, the Bulldogs put on perhaps their most impressive performance, holding the ball for two minutes; repeatedly driving the lane and kicking the ball out to the three-point line, each time gaining cheers from the crowd. Ole.
Sulphur advances to face Heritage Hall in the first round of Regionals Thursday night at Heritage Hall.
Jakub Sharp led Sulphur with 15 points. Tavius Mcdonald scored 12, John Jacobs scored 11 points and Houston Haines finished with 10.