STRATFORD — Many fans thought there might be a photo finish during the boys game when the Stratford Bulldogs hosted old rival Vanoss Saturday night.
That kind of tight contest never materialized after Vanoss hit eight 3-point shots in a big first half and eased past the Bulldogs 57-44.
Vanoss improved to 12-9 on the year and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs have now lost four of their past five outings to fall to 6-11.
“I still think we have a pretty good team. We can be tough, especially when we’re hitting shots,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt. “We’ve had a few injuries and sickness. But we play a tough schedule.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have piled up a bunch of close losses.
“This is the first time we’ve lost by more than 10 all year,” Stratford head coach Mark Qualls pointed out.
Last December, the two teams met inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center and the Wolves prevailed 65-58.
With the game tied at 9-9 late in the first quarter Saturday, Vanoss hit three consecutive 3-point shots. Sando Hill, who erupted for a game-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, hit two treys in the quick VHS spurt, while Braxton Cagle sandwiched a 3-point shot of his own between two Hill makes.
That started a 12-0 VHS run that put the visitors on top 21-9 after the first quarter.
After Stratford got within 21-13 on a drive to the basket by Cade Paulin early in the second quarter, Vanoss scored eight points in a row.
A trey by Tucker Bucher put the Wolves ahead 29-13 with just under six minutes to play in the quarter.
Bucher, who scored all seven of his points in the second frame, ended the quarter with a free throw and another 3-pointer to put VHS on top 38-20 at halftime.
The Bulldogs could get no closer than 12 in the third quarter, but Paulin hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth period and two free throws by Landon Wood at the 3:44 mark got Stratford within 50-40.
Vanoss responded with five straight points — including a pair of Heath Stone baskets — to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
Hill, who sank a trio of 3-pointers, also added five rebounds and six steals to his solid outing. Stone contributed 11 points, while Riley Cooper collected nine rebounds to go with four points.
Paulin scored a season-high 15 points for Stratford off the bench. Wood finished with 11 points, but the SHS sharpshooter didn’t hit a single 3-pointer after hitting a combined 15 triples in recent outings against Elmore City-Pernell and Sasakwa.
The Wolves finished 9-of-23 (39.1 percent) from 3-point territory.
Stratford’s Chase Ward scored five points, hitting his only two field goal attempts before leaving the game in the first half with an ankle injury.
Lady Wolves sack Stratford
The Vanoss Lady Wolves raised out to a 38-4 lead in the opener and never looked back in a 69-25 victory over host Stratford.
A jumper by Vanoss post player Emrie Ellis with just over two minutes left in the second quarter capped the huge VHS opening salvo.
Stratford, which hit just 2-of-20 field goals to start the game, got buckets from McKenzie Miner and Lakelynn Anderson late in the second quarter as Vanoss led 41-8 at halftime.
Ellis finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots for the Lady Wolves. She connected on 9-of-10 field goals.
Lizzy Simpson followed with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Rileigh Rush hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 11 points for the visitors.
Caitlin Byrd went 3-for-3 from long range for all of her nine points.
Lakelynn Anderson scored six points for Stratford, while Jacy Korzan was next with five, all coming in the fourth quarter.
Both Vanoss teams battle Okemah tonight inside East Central’s Kerr Activities Center, while Stratford travels to Wynnewood tonight.