By SHAWN YORKS
• Leader & Times
OKLAHOMA CITY — A goal that was set more than a year ago was achieved on Saturday night.
The Forgan Bulldogs completed their mission and destroyed the Graham Chieftains 81-47 to capture the Class B state championship in The Big House. The Gold Ball will now be proudly displayed at Forgan School.
“It’s unbelievable, words can’t express it,” Forgan head coach Todd Kerr said after his team put on its most dominating performance in the most important game of the year on Oklahoma’s biggest stage and in front of a crowd more than double the size of Forgan’s entire population.
Even Kerr was surprised at how dominant the Bulldogs were against a Graham squad that came in with an identical 26-2 record.
“I thought we were in for a battle all night long,” Kerr said. “I thought that’s the way it was going to be. It just shows you what these guys are capable of. They’re just unbelievable.”
The scoring star for Forgan in the state title win was junior Tournament Most Valuable Player Rhett Radcliff, who put up 33 points - 22 of those in the first half alone.
For Radcliff, the difference for the entire state tournament was that the team felt no pressure.
“To be honest with you, the Area championship was more pressure than this,” Radcliff said, referring to the game that sent the Bulldogs home a year ago, short of the state tournament. “After what happened last year, I definitely didn’t want to feel like that again.”
Once Forgan, which finished 27-2 on the season, made it to State Fair Arena in Oklahoma’s capitol city, the pressure was lifted.
“After winning (Area) and getting here, it was pretty much playtime,” Radcliff said. “Our team knew we were the best team here and we just had to go out and prove it.”
The Bulldogs proved it, alright.
Forgan won all three state tournament games by an average margin of victory of 32 points. The 81 points in the championship game was third-most in a single game all season for the Bulldogs, who put up 83 against Mooreland and 88 against Tyrone. It was the best single-game scoring output of any team in the state tournament - Class A or B.
In the finals, Forgan shot 65 percent from the field and only missed four shots in the second half.
The championship contest started out as a highlight reel by the Brothers Radcliff - Rhett and Ryan - who scored nine of the first 10 Bulldog points as Forgan built a 10-3 lead.
Graham showed some shooting skills, as well, as Trae Morgan, Kyle Hart and Chase Smith brought the Chieftains (26-3) to within a point at 15-14 with 2:50 left.
But Rhett simply could not miss and brought Forgan back out to a 23-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Chieftains tried to keep pace in the second, down by as many as 10 and as little as six before settling for a 39-32 deficit at the half. Rhett scored 10 points in the quarter, Ryan three and Jake Regier two.
But Forgan could smell victory in the second half, and went for the kill, increasing its lead to 60-43 at the end of the third, and ended the game with a 21-4 run in the fourth quarter as chants of “We want Gold,” arose from the Forgan faithful.
In addition to Rhett’s 33, Ryan added 15, Jake Regier 11, Tanner Jones six, Matt Morris five, Tyler McReynolds four, Tayler Eagen three, Trent Brown two and Kameron Hall two.
Kyle Hart scored 19 for Graham after matching Forgan early in the game. But Hart sat out much of the second half with foul trouble. Smith added 13 for the Chieftains.
Rhett knew coming into the game that he would do everything it took to win gold.
“I’ve been waiting for this since I was in fifth grade,” he said. “I just figured it was my time to go. I just felt it.”
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