By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
While most of the area schools began their basketball seasons in earnest last week, Muskogee gave their boys and girls teams an extra week of practice.
That week has come and gone and tonight, the Roughers and Lady Roughers begin their 2012-13 campaigns at Ron Milam Memorial Gymnasium by hosting Sapulpa. The girls take the floor first at 6:30 p.m. with the boys’ game to follow.
When the Roughers take the floor, there will be a different person guiding the team for the second straight season.
Josh Berry begins his first season as coach of the boys team, taking over for Lloyd Williams who left after one season and wound up on the South Dakota staff opposite his wife Amy who is the head women’s coach there.
“The kids have handled learning a new system pretty well,” Berry said. “We’ve come a long way from when we first started. They’re starting to buy in now and we’ve seen a carryover in the last few days.”
Berry has a core of three impressive juniors to work with in guards David Beasley (5-11) and Anthony King (6-2) as well as Tramal Ivy, a 6-5 junior. Beasley averaged 16 points and 4 assists, King averaged 12 points and five rebounds while Ivy averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds last season.
“David is a great kid and we’re trying to get him to sell out more on the defensive end and learn how to run a team,” Berry said. “Anthony is a great scorer and great shooter and we just have to get him to be more vocal as far as leadership. Tramal can be as good as he wants to be. He’s a post that can put the ball on the floor and is very explosive and could average a double-double every night.”
Two sophomores that are coming on strong for the Roughers’ inside game are Aaron Givens (6-6) and Lavare Reed (6-4).
“Aaron is kinda frail but has gotten 10 times better than when he first started,” Berry said. “Lavare has been injured lately so he hasn’t really been able to go full speed. He’s more of a bruiser type power forward and is very skilled with his hands.”
Berry says the guys are tired of hearing his voice and ready to play.
“People are going to see a high-energy team playing,” he said. “A team that plays together and at a frantic pace.”
The Lady Roughers, No. 9 in the Okrankings.com Class 6A poll, have a daunting task in front of them to start things off by taking on the No. 6 team in the Class 6A poll.
“Hopefully we’re ready to go,” said girls coach Doyle Rowland. “This is our first test of the season and we get to start with one of the top teams in the state.”
The Lady Roughers look to defense to develop some talent around a pair of standout guards from last season’s 20-8 Class 6A quarterfinalist. Kelsey McClure (5-7, 14.2 ppg) and Alexus Wilson (5-9, 11.7 ppg, 6 rpg) are those returnees. Wilson recently signed to play next year at Oral Roberts. McClure is also expected to be a Division I recruit but hasn’t made a commitment yet.
“We look for big things from them,” Rowland said. “But in order to win, it takes more than two. Hopefully the rest of them are ready to kick in and give them some help and play good defense, that’s the main thing. We’ll see how our cards stack up.”