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By Kevin Farr - Coaches Aid | March 12th, 2005

Griffin boys lead OCS to second straight title

STATE FAIR ARENA - Only one team in Class 3A has been able to beat the Oklahoma Christian Saints in the last two seasons.

And that team paid for it Saturday night.

The second ranked Saints got revenge for a disappointing December loss to Sequoyah-Tahlequah in the Tournament of Champions with a 51-34 rout of the top ranked Indians in the Class 3A boys state championship game.

"We've been looking forward to this game for a long time," Taylor Griffin said after pouring in 19 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocked shots. "There was a lot of talk after the first game (against Sequoyah) and we definitely wanted revenge for that one.

"We felt like it would come down to us and them and we knew exactly what we had to do."

The victory sent the gold ball to OCS for the second straight season and fifth time overall.

Oklahoma Christian 51, Sequoyah-Tahlequah 34
Oklahoma Christian got off to a fast start and never trailed. Primarily what the Saints did was win a physical battle in the paint. And how.

It wasn't even close as OCS dominated the boards by a whopping 30-10 margin.

With OCS controlling the tempo and Sequoyah shooitng just 25-percent from three-point range, it made for a long night for the Indians.

"We didn't think we played up to our capabilities in that earlier contest," said OCS head coach Tommy Griffin who won the title for the sixth time as a head coach. "We've been working ever since then on what we were going to do if we were fortunate enough to face them (Sequoyah) again.

"We knew that we had to keep the game at our tempo because you definitely aren't going to win too many battles running up and down the court with those guys. They have way too much speed."

By controlling the tempo, the Saints were able to work the ball in their halfcourt sets to get the open shot against an aggressive Sequoyah matchup zone defense that normally gives opponents fits.

Unlike the previous meeting, Oklahoma Christian was at full speed and ready for it this time.

"You just don't see a matchup zone defense like they play very often," Taylor Griffin added. "It's really tough to prepare for but playing them earlier really helped our preparation."

With the Indians concentrating their efforts on Taylor Griffin inside, the Saints worked the ball to near perfection early on, racing out to a quick lead on the strength of three three-pointers from junior Tyler Phillips.

Sequoyah answered with sizzling early three-point shooting of its own as T.J. Hooper sank a pair of long-range bombs and Jeff Elizondo added another, cutting the margin to 15-12 with just a minute left in the opening stanza.

But the final sixty seconds must have seemed like an eternity to the Indians as Taylor Griffin notched a pair of free throws and younger brother Blake added a conventional three-point play in the final second for an eight-point advantage after one.

OCS tightened up the defense soon after, holding the Indians scoreless over the final 5:55 of the first half while the Saints posted the final seven points of the stanza to extend the lead to 31-17 at the break.

"We've thought all season that we had the best defense in 3A and did a great job on them today," Coach Griffin said.

Even with a 14-point cushion, the Saints kept the pressure on in the third period, holding Sequoyah to just eight points. Taylor Griffin provided the offensive spark as well by providing seven of his game-high 19 points in the quarter.

Leading by a 41-25 margin early in the final frame, OCS added an emphatic statement when Taylor Griffin notched back-to-back thunderous slam-dunks that sent the Saint student section into a frenzy.

Moments later, younger brother Blake added a pair of dunks of his own to help finish off the Indians, who end the season 23-5.

OCS finished the contest at a sizzling 58-percent from the field while Sequoyah was limited to just 24-percent shooting overall. Blake Griffin added 12 points and nine boards for the Saints while Phillips and Jeff Lindley checked in with nine apiece.

Hooper posted a team-high 12 points for the Indians while top scorers Preston Moore and Elizondo were limited to just seven and five points respectively.

The only thing that seemed to remain was a tribute to MVP Taylor Griffin, who left the court in the final minutes to a loud ovation and into the waiting hug from his father, who had to fight back a few emotional tears.

"Coming off the court for the last time is something I'll never forget," said Taylor. "Winning the gold ball with my father, brother and teammates in my last game in high school.

"The feelings are really indescribable."

3A Boys Championship
Oklahoma Christian  20  11  10  10 - 51
Sequoyah Tahlequah  12   5   8   9 - 34

Oklahoma Christian (24-2) - Taylor Griffin 19, Blake Griffin 12, Jeff Lindley 9, Tyler Phillips 9, Justin Hitchcock 2.
Sequoyah Tahlequah (23-5) - T.J. Hooper 12, Preston Moore 7, Jeff Elizondo 5, Lance Soap 5, Derrick Ross 2, Ryan Taryole 2, T.J. Scott 1.