By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
With area schools having been closed since last Thursday because of the winter storm, student-athletes and coaches have been forced to alter their schedules.
Hilldale girls coach Scott Hensley was all set for his team to get the season started last week in the Hilldale tournament but saw all those games wiped out. The weather also put a damper on practice as most of his players were unable to get to the school until Monday.
“I opened the gym (Sunday) for practice but only a couple of kids were able to make it,” Hensley said. “We’ve had a long layoff and it showed today. You could visibly see that they were not in the shape that they left in.
“About halfway through the practice, they were losing focus. It’s going to be a tough deal but everybody has to deal with it.”
The Fort Gibson girls, the defending Class 4A state champions, were to start the year last Tuesday hosting Locust Grove. When that game was canceled because of the Pirates’ football team’s playoff run, the season opener was then to be at Catoosa last Friday.
Weather wiped out the games at Catoosa and also the Lady Tigers’ game at Sallisaw on Saturday, so now the Lady Tigers are set to begin the season at 4 p.m. today against Pryor in the Jerry Oquin Inola tournament. Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker has had his players in the gym getting ready.
“Most of our kids live around town, so their parents were able to bring them up,” Walker said. “We just have them come up and we’ve been trying to stay in shape and get some conditioning in. There’s never any replacement for game experience but what you try to do is play quarter situations and run against different defenses.”
Muskogee boys coach Josh Berry, whose Roughers are off to a 3-0 start, had the team’s home opener versus Owasso canceled and also its game tonight against Sand Springs. Berry is not worried the layoff could hurt the momentum the Roughers have built by the start of their season.
“Just keeping them in basketball shape is the biggest thing,” Berry said. “This is a good group of seniors that we’ve got and they’ve had a pretty rough past two years. That’s enough motivation to keep their head on straight.”
Most of the games early in the season are in tournaments and those more than likely won’t be made up. However, the individual contests can be rescheduled.
“The only negative is if you’re making up regular season games, you might have them stacked at the end of the season where you have a four-game week,” Walker said. “Tournament games, you’re either going to play them or you’re not. Last week’s games for us all had to be rescheduled.”