Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
It didn’t take the Stratford girls basketball team long to feel right at home Monday night inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.
The Lady Bulldogs bolted to a 26-2 lead to start the game and traipsed past Thackerville 63-14 in their home away from home. ECU officials have agreed to let Stratford use the Kerr Center for home games this season while Stratford's own gym is undergoing renovations.
The Stratford boys took a bit longer to get rolling but eventually took down Thackerville 64-34.
Stratford 63, Thackerville 14
The Lady Bulldogs hit 12 of their first 20 shots en route to the commanding first-quarter lead.
“I was actually surprised at how well my first group shot for their first game in this gym,” Sratford head coach Jason Fulks said. “I was pleased with the way they took care of business.”
The game was such a mismatch that Stratford had built a 48-4 lead before the Lady Wildcats (0-4) hit their first field goal — a 3-pointer by reserve Shea McCage at the 2:46 mark of the third quarter.
The Stratford defense gave Thackerville fits all night, forcing an incredible 42 turnovers. The Lady Bulldogs (3-3) had 28 steals, with Vanessa Cothren and Carli Etheridge leading the way with four apiece.
A total of 11 players reached the scoring column for Stratford, with Hanna McKinney and Cheyenne Weast leading the way with 10 points each. McKinney hit 5-of-6 of her field goal attempts. Cothren and Kara Davenport added eight points each for the home team. Cheyenne Hickman pulled down a team-high nine rebounds for SHS.
Thackerville got six points from Morgan Rains and 10 rebounds from Megan Kennedy.
The Lady Bulldogs attempted 81 field goals, compared to just 25 for the Wildcats.
The Stratford girls were scheduled to play Elmore City Saturday at 1 p.m. in the third-place game of the weather-delayed Big 8 Tournament in Dibble. But that third-place game will now be decided when the two teams meet in the regular season next February.
Stratford 64, Thackerville 34
The Wildcats kept the game close for the first 11 minutes of the game. In fact, after Jesse Maldonado scored on a fast break for Thackerville at the 4:57 mark of the second period, Stratford was clinging to a 15-10 lead.
The Bulldogs (5-1) finally got some breathing room with a 13-0 run — whichincluded a pair of 3-pointers by Jon Golden — that stretched their lead to 28-10 with 2:08 left in the first half.
Stratford led 31-13 at the half and after a 3-poiner by Chase Bradstreet and a basket by Bobby Cothren to end the third period, the Bulldogs had forged a 56-24 advantage. Stratford outscored Thackerville 24-11 in the third quarter.
Stratford boys coach Mark Qualls wasn’t pleased with his team’s slow start against the winless Wildcats (0-4).
“For whatever reason, we didn’t seem to play with any intensity. We took too many 3-pointers and didn’t get back on defense,” he said. “No matter who we’re playing, we have to be ready to play.”
The Bulldogs owned a big 65-39 rebounding edge and forced 28 turnovers. Stratford had 16 turnovers.
Stratford had 10 of its 13 players who entered the game reach the scoring column. Golden and Bradstreet led the balanced SHS offense with 11 points each. Brenton Willingham followed with nine points to go with a game-high 10 rebounds. Josh Waller also had a solid all-around outing with seven points, nine rebounds and five steals. Eli Savage hit four of his five shots to score eight points of the bench.
Cade Savage, who scored a game-high 20 points against high-powered Lindsay last Saturday, was limited to four points against Thackerville.
Thackerville got 12 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals from Jarred Buckaloo. Maldonado added nine points off the bench for the visitors.
The Bulldogs will battle Community Christian Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Dibble in the finals of the Big 8 Tournament.