CHECOTAH – Summer camps are over for the Wildcats as they finished up at Henryetta on Wednesday. Checotah also participated at the Connors State camp the week before.
Coming off a 15-9 season and a second round regional loss at the hands of Tulsa Central, coach Jason Dowdy says his team has experienced growth this summer.
“In the summer time things aren’t always as good as you would like,” said Dowdy. “Our kids have come out this summer and prided themselves on working hard. That goes a long way and if a team does that naturally, it opens them up for growth.”
Dowdy said the growth his team is experiencing is coming mainly in communication on the floor.
“The last two years we have been trying to get communication on the defensive end of the floor,” said Dowdy. “Players are making on-court decisions as a team and not worrying about personal egos.”
Dowdy is relying on two talented players in seniors DeShay Bear and Dayton Ellen. Bear and Ellen led the team in scoring a year ago with each player averaging in high double-digits scoring wise.
“These two guys are versatile and open things up for one another on offense,” said Dowdy. “They compliment one another well and rotate good giving us the versatility we need at that position.”
Dowdy will have a new game manager this year in 6-0 junior point guard Jariel Hughes.
“He’s still young at this point, but he understands the game well and my mindset,” said Dowdy. “He will get better everyday with the kind of work ethic he has. He does whatever needs to be done.”
Dowdy and the Cats’ keep the gym doors open during the summer for plenty of pick-up games and bring in some alumni to scrimmage with.
“We are doing OK this summer,” said Dowdy. “At this point it’s hard to tell. You just start to see what you can do.”
EUFAULA – Although coach Bradley Campbell and his team are changing from a half-court set team to more of a press/tempo team, Campbell knows exactly what kind of potential his Ironhead squad has with big men Daxton Williams and Gage Durrett leading the way.
“I know what I’m getting out of those two guys,” said Campbell. “They are both real physical players and I’ve noticed this summer they have gotten a lot quicker. They feed off one another.”
Eufaula finished up team camp at Henryetta this week where Campbell says the team struggled to make it through with some hampering injuries after a whole lot of conditioning drills that wore his team out.
“I had several kids in football camp and had a few injuries,” said Campbell. “But we made it through and are transitioning to an inside-out team well.”
A season ago, the Ironheads lost in the area semifinals to Antlers and ended their season with a 20-7 record.
Even though the majority of the Ironheads return, Campbell has been tinkering with his offense by taking a page out of Fort Gibson’s coach Gary Hendrix playbook.
“Gary and I went to college together and he is a great friend,” said Campbell. “I called him and got the old ‘Jack Dobbins offense’ from Tahlequah.”
The offensive switch will require more movement, pace and tempo on the court for what Campbell says is a guard-heavy team.
“Honestly, we are a post-oriented team offensively with Williams and Durrett,” said Campbell. “But this year I’m looking for us to work inside-out and push the tempo more in the transition game with our depth at guard. Just the opposite from a year ago.”
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