PRESTON — This was one of those good news-bad news situations.
The good news was that Preston’s No. 1 ranked girls didn’t score 100 points.
The bad news: Afton’s girls suffered a 73-47 loss to the Lady Pirates here Saturday night in the Class 2A Area III regional final.
“They’ve had three of their last four games where they’ve scored over 100 and we held them to 73,” Afton coach Gerald Sergeant said.
This marked the fourth straight regional title for Preston, which has scored 80-plus points in 10 games this season. They routed Haskell 107-53 on Feb. 9, then “only” scored 45 in at win at Kellyville the next night.
Preston outslugged Indianola 116-73 in their district final, then the Lady Pirates humbled Keota 104-53 in Thursday’s regional opener here.
The Lady Pirates are looking for a fourth straight trip to the state tournament. They can nail that down with a victory over Okarche in the Area III final Friday night at Bixby.
Afton takes the first step in what it hopes will be the start of at least a three-game winning streak Thursday when it battles Weleetka in a 6:30 p.m. elimination game at Bixby’s Whitey Ford Fieldhouse.
“They play hard and they compete every possession,” Preston coach Mickey Duncan said. “We’ve got a bunch of great kids — a bunch of great seniors.”
Afton and Preston battled toe-to-toe for the first quarter, with the Lady Eagles leading twice.
A conventional 3-point play by Darby Todd and a bucket from inside by Macy Gibson gave the Lady Eagles a 19-17 advantage.
But a 3-point goal by Kiera Bird gave the hosts the lead for good.
Preston sped things up and ran off 15 straight points in the second quarter to break the game open. It went into the half with a 40-23 advantage.
“We broke down,” Sergeant said. “We didn’t bounce-pass like I wanted to. We did overhead (passes) and didn’t get the two guards back like we were supposed to. Everything we were supposed to do, we didn’t. We started hitting and missing like a car with bad plugs.”
The Lady Pirates held an 18-12 advantage in the third quarter then outscored Afton 15-12 over the final eight minutes.
Gibson led the scoring for Afton with 12 points. She was joined in double figures by Jaci Grimes with 10.
Erica Love had a game-high 19 points for Preston. Shakayla Love added 17 and reserve Sierra Cornwell chipped in with 15 points.
“Our bench has done a great job,” Duncan said.
Sergeant was impressed when Preston superintendent Mark Hudson took time after the game to go to the Afton dressing room to complement the Lady Eagles on their play.
“He was really gracious,” Sergeant said.
Afton 19 4 12 12 — 47
Preston 20 20 18 15 — 73
Afton — Gibson 12, Grimes 10, Vanpielt 9, Todd 8, Carroll 6, 2.
Preston – E. Love 19, S. Love 19, Cornwell 15, Ward 8, Johnson 6, Bird 3, Reagor 3, O’Guin 2.
3-point goals — Vanpielt 1, Carroll 1, Ward 2, Cornwell 1, B ird 1, Reagor 1.