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BASKETBALL: Blanchard challenges Douglass in state quarterfinal

Mar. 8—OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lions would not go away.

After advancing to the Class 4A state tournament, eighth-ranked Blanchard gave second-ranked Douglass all it could handle in Thursday's state quarterfinal at Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City. Before trailing by 18 points after three quarters in a 56-43 loss, the Lions only faced a single-digit deficit in the second half.

No matter how many times Douglass wanted to run away with the win, Blanchard continued to stay around. One example of that was in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans poured on points as the third quarter came to a close, making a close game a 51-33 advantage heading to the final quarter. But the Lions continued to fight.

While Blanchard's 10-1 run to start the fourth quarter cut the deficit in half, it was also a sign of how Blanchard played in the game. The Lions made Douglass work for the win and came up with responses to challenge the defending champion and favorite to at least reach the title game again.

Douglass started the game on an 8-1 run before Blanchard came up with one of those responses. Jared Wrigley hit two of his three triples in the first quarter, and the Lions tied the game at nine with a 5-0 scoring run.

Down 17-13 after one quarter, the Lions only scored five points in the second quarter. But they did not let Douglass take full advantage of that, holding the Trojans to 10 points and keeping their deficit in single digits at halftime.

Douglass did go up double digits in the third quarter, but the Lions still would not go away. The long-range shooting of Wrigley and Carson Cooksey made up a 6-0 run, and the Lions suddenly had their deficit to just five points before Douglass went on a run to end the quarter.

The duo of Wrigley and Cooksey each hit three triples, making up all six of Blanchard's makes from beyond the arc. They each finished the game with nine points.

Ross Johnston led the Lions, scoring 14 points in the game and 10 points in the second half. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

The Lions also got points from Emory Smalley, Jaxon Hull and Cole Watkins.

Blanchard won district and regional titles in the playoffs before winning an area consolation title to advance to state. The team advanced to state for the third time in four seasons and finished the season with a 21-8 record.