By BEN JOHNSON
There was a small smattering of joy when Hulbert beat Mounds to claim the Class 2A District 4 title on Saturday. But at the same time, there was some trepidation.
Oh, only because No. 1 Northeast was next on the horizon for the Lady Riders. The unbeaten Lady Vikings are in the midst of a run in which they have outscored opponents by an average of 54.7 points per game.
“It will be the best team we’ve played in quite some time,” Hulbert coach Rick Ott said. “They’re probably going to be faster than us, and they’ll try to get up and down the floor. But we’re going to try and keep them from doing that.”
Northeast (23-0) is coming off a district tournament game in which it beat John Marshall, 100-38. Prior to that, Douglass didn’t stand a chance against the Lady Vikings in a 70-16 beatdown.
Hulbert is riding a two-game winning streak as the playoffs enter the regional tournament stage.
“I’m proud of my kids because everyone projected this to be a down season for Hulbert basketball,” Ott said. “We’re going to go in there [against Northeast] and give it our best shot.”
Last year, Hulbert wasn’t able to make it out of regionals and advance to area. It doesn’t get any easier this season with Hulbert in the same region as Colcord, Quapaw, Yale and Commerce. In the other region in Area III, Tonkawa, Rogers, Ketchum, Kiefer and Caney Valley are lurking.
“Our area is tough,” said Ott, whose team is 16-8. “We just have to be careful and know what’s going on.”
But, first things first. Northeast and the monumental task Hulbert faces in the regional semifinals.
“They’re going to be well prepared,” Ott said of Northeast, which lost the 2A title game by two points last season. “They have seven seniors from last year’s runner-up team.”
With one of the biggest victories in school history, Hulbert would play the winner of Colcord-Quapaw for the regional title on Saturday in Mounds. A loss to Northeast would result in a regional consolation game on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Mounds’ Carter Fieldhouse.