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Hartsock scores 18, Royals dominate second half to secure district title

Feb. 16—Oklahoma Christian School called a timeout a little over a minute into the second quarter, but there was little it could do when Community Christian found its groove.

It was a four-point game at the end of the first quarter, but on the Royals' first possession coming out of the break, point guard Preslee Hartsock knocked down a 3-pointer off the dribble. Then, Hope Martin got a steal and another quick score for the Royals.

CCS scored 16 unanswered points and only allowed four points in the second quarter to set the stage for what would become a dominant second half.

Hartsock led the way with 18 points in a 64-34 win at home to secure the District 4 title.

The Royals advance to the regional tournament next Thursday at Lindsay with tipoff tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m.

"I think we shot the 3 extremely well ... I thought our shot selection was really good," CCS head coach Chad Thrailkill said. "In the first half we were a little stagnant, our offense wasn't really moving. We didn't really get the things we wanted to get and they were playing well, they did some good stuff."

The shots from outside the arc really started to pour in as the Royals pulled away in the third quarter. They hit five 3-pointers in the second half and went 9-14 through all four quarters.

Hartsock accounted for three of those makes, but impacted the game in several different ways.

"She's just somebody that doesn't lose," Thrailkill said about Hartsock. "If I need someone on my team, I want her, because her team is gonna win."

That was obvious early in the game when OCS was able to answer the Royals' early punches with a hot start shooting.

Hartsock only took one shot in the first quarter, but had a steal and two rebounds. A junior on a young team, Hartsock is often plays the role of an on-court coach.

"She pushes people, makes people better, shot the 3 well tonight," Thrailkill said. "She just manages the team well and a really hard guard for people."

Martin added 11 points and Annabelle Mitchell hit a pair of triples in the fourth quarter to finish with eight points.

The Royals forced 12 turnovers and were 8 of 10 from the free throw line.

By the end of the third quarter they had a comfortable 51-24 lead and the starters were able to sit for the rest of the game. Still, the Royals' bench continued to battle until the final minute.

"They've bought in to what we're trying to do," Thrailkill said. "They've grown up together so they expect things from each other and that's hard to find in girls basketball."

CCS has won four straight and 10 of its last 11.

With back to back wins at the regional tournament next week, the Royals can advance to the area tournament needing just one win to punch their ticket to the state tournament.

"I think if we just continue to build on what we do and worry about us and continue to get better, I think we'll have a good chance against anybody we play," Thrailkill said.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com