In the end, Sulphur is the only unbeaten team remaining.
The Lady Bulldogs capped off a perfect season Saturday and captured the school's first state championship in girls basketball by downing Perkins-Tryon, 42-34, in the Class 3A title game at State Fair Arena on Saturday.
Sulphur (30-0) defeated a previously unbeaten team in Perkins-Tryon (28-1) just as the Lady Bulldogs had on Friday against previously unbeaten Adair in the semifinals.
“That was our goal from Day 1, to be state champions,” said a jubilant Ashley Hughes, who scored a game-high 15 points for Sulphur. “To be 30-0 is just icing on the cake.”
Sulphur returned four seniors from last year's squad that was the Lady Bulldogs first state tournament qualifier in 89 years.
Sulphur won its first state tournament game in school history (not counting getting credited with a bye in 1923) last year over Salina before losing in the semifinals to Prague.
“Coming into this year, we didn't talk about any other goal but winning a state championship,” Lady Bulldogs coach Toby Todd said.
Sulphur doesn't have a starter who is taller than 5-10, but still out-rebounded (25-18) the Lady Demons, who boasted a strong front line in 6-0 post players Jordan Gorham and McKenzie Stanford.
“We are petty gritty,” Hughes said. “We are resilient. We are not the biggest, but we got great team speed. We've really just got a great will to win. We knew it was ours.”
A slow start doomed Perkins-Tryon as Gorham, who was whistled for two fouls in the first four minutes, had to sit on the bench for most of the quarter.
Sulphur raced to a 9-2 lead after the first period and never trailed.
“The 9-2 run killed us,” Perkins-Tryon coach Jerry Burnett said. “We came out scared and that was the margin right there that got us beat. You got to come out and play and we didn't do that. That was the game right there.”
The Lady Demons made some runs at Sulphur, getting as close as five points (37-32) with 2:40 left in the game on Bailey Wensler's 3-pointers.
But Sulphur was able to keep the Lady Demons at bay, playing keep-away and forcing Perkins-Tryon to foul in the final two minutes. The Lady Bulldogs scored their final five points from the free throw line.
“We knew if they got the lead, they would pull it out on us and that's what they did,” Burnett said. “We knew they couldn't stop us inside but we didn't go inside the whole first quarter.”
Hughes was 5-of-5 from the free-throw line in the game. The senior guard also had five rebounds and three assists.
Gorham, an Oklahoma Christian University signee, had 13 points and six rebounds.
“We just hated the feeling we had in that last game last year,” Todd said. “We just harped on finish, finish, finish.”
On Sulphur's first day of practice Oct. 1, Todd had each of his players climb a ladder and help cut down the net.
“I said, ‘Girls, we are going to start the season the way we are going to finish the season,' ” he said.
“To see this come full circle since that first day, is just an awesome, awesome feeling.”