By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
With the football season winding down, prep basketball gets going in earnest tonight as 11 area schools begin their 2012-13 schedule.
Fort Gibson boys and girls opens their seasons on the road at Catoosa and girls coach Jerry Walker, who welcomes back two starters back from last year’s Class 4A finalist team in Savannah Gray and Taylor London, believes this year could be another special year for the Lady Tigers, No. 2 in the Class 4A Okrankings.com poll.
“The difference between this year and the previous two years is this year’s team is young,” he said. “The last two seasons we had a lot of depth returning. But I expect to see Lady Tiger basketball against Catoosa, playing hard for all four quarters and getting after it.”
For Hilldale, it heads to Keys where the girls will square beginning at 6:30 p.m. while the boys meet the No. 7 team in 3A.
Hilldale boys coach Jeremy Rogers has three returners from last year’s team in Bill Muse, Jr., Hunter Harrison and Dylan Rowan. He also warns to not sell the Hornets short.
“We’re small but we’re quick,” Rogers said. “We weren’t expected to win many games last year and we won 13. We have been in the gym all year and we’re ready to go.”
Porter travels to Oktaha, which started its season two weeks ago along with Braggs and Webbers Falls, with both the Oktaha boys and girls sitting at 2-0 and No. 2 and No. 5 in their respective 2A polls.
The boys game is a rematch of last year’s 2A area consolation final with Oktaha coming out on top 53-43. Second-year coach Jason Jack is ready to see what his guys can do once the whistle blows.
“We can be scary good at times,” Jack said. “We just have to iron some consistency issues out. I also feel we have one of the fastest teams in the state and we’re going to run. Plus, I feel I have the best player in (2A) in Jacob Richardson (2011-12 All-Phoenix MVP).”
A familiar face to area fans of girls basketball will be on the bench for the Porter girls as Bill Nobles begins his reign. Nobles comes to Porter from Sequoyah, having guided the Lady Indians to three consecutive 3A state championships (2005-07) and sporting an overall career record of 211-75 over 11 seasons that also includes stops Oklahoma City Capitol Hill and Wetumka.
Nobles has his work cut out for him at Porter as the Lady Pirates are coming off an winless 2011-12 campaign.
Eufaula, Sequoyah and Tahlequah begin play on Wednesday. Muskogee doesn’t begin its season until Dec. 4 when it hosts Sapulpa.