SEQUOYAH — Braxton Bulman doesn’t consider himself much of a shooter.
“I haven’t been the whole season; I’ve been shooting kind of bad the whole season,” he said.
However, that didn’t stop the 5-foot-9 senior guard from catching the hot hand early, hitting two 3-pointers in the first quarter to spark Sequoyah to a 46-37 victory over Morris in the Class 3A Area IV District 8 championship Monday night at Olan Graham Field House.
It was the Eagles’ third-consecutive district title, having defeated Jay in 2019 and Locust Grove in 2020.
Bulman’s 3-pointers were part of a 16-3 run that extended into the second quarter and gave Sequoyah at 10-point lead. Morris never got closer than seven points after that.
“It felt good, personally, to come out — especially in a big game like a district game — and get the team rolling and everything,” said Bulman, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds. “But I couldn’t do it without teammates passing it.”
Fellow senior Cooper Thompson played a key role during that decisive run as well, scoring five of his 13 points during the spurt, including a 3-ball that gave the Eagles the lead for good at 8-6. Thompson also had three rebounds.
Bulman and Thompson combined for nine-consecutive points in the first quarter before teaming up once more with seven straight from the end of the second period to the opening moments of the third.
Despite that on-court chemistry, Bulman doesn’t like to call himself and Thompson a dynamic duo. After all, they weren’t the only Sequoyah players to log impressive games.
Karson Bickel contributed eight points and four rebounds while Eli Wood added six points and seven rebounds, and Blake Bedsworth registered five points and five rebounds.
“I’d say we probably have a quintet,” Bulman said. “All five of us feed off each other. It’s not just one or two. We have a really good and close team; we’re all kind of like family.”
That isn’t even including Kaleb Bickel, who managed four points and three rebounds.
The Eagles’ attack seemed to be perfectly balanced, which is what coach Larry Grigg prefers. Having one player carry most of the scoring load doesn’t fit his coaching style.
“Since I’ve been coaching, that’s how I’ve always tried to build my club instead of making one kid try to get 20 or 25, because if he gets hurt or he’s having a bad night, those other kids don’t know how to score,” Grigg said. “I really like our balance, but the only thing that’s really hurt us is lack of games for the younger guys like the Bickel boys. They still get nervous a little bit, and they’re basically halfway through their sophomore year.
“I would’ve liked to have those other 10 games back.”
Bulman and Thompson’s second run increased the lead to 17 points at 33-16 in the third, but Morris responded with a 9-0 run of its own to trim the deficit to eight. Sequoyah regained control, though, and pushed the advantage back to double digits.
Tucker Kelsey led Morris with 11 points and a rebound while Giorgio Dunn added nine points and Jaxsun Fulton chipped in seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Eagles play at undefeated No. 2 Hugo in Area IV Regional C at 8 p.m. Thursday. Hugo is located in the southeastern corner of the state near the Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana borders.
According to Google Maps, the trip will take well over three hours.
“It’ll take us four hours to get down there by the time we stop and feed them,” Grigg said. “It’s 192 miles. But all we gotta do is just go play. Since I’ve been here, I have not won a game in a regional tournament. That’s eight years.”