Phoenix Staff Reports
GAINING EXPERIENCE – With just one returning starter back, the Class 4A No. 6 Fort Gibson Tigers have been impressive early on getting off to a 4-1 start in the Verdigris Valley Conference. Tonight’s second-half opener may prove to be a significant task against undefeated 4A No. 16 Locust Grove.
“The more we play, the better we will be,” said FGHS head coach Gary Hendrix. “We have been playing 7-8 players and we are in good shape.”
Jordon London is the lone returning starter for the Tigers, who have shot the ball well from the field but need more consistency on the boards, Hendrix said. During the break, Fort Gibson held several scrimmages against alumni and Checotah.
DOING WHAT THEY DO – The motto for Checotah this season is “Do What We Do,” and that is just what head coach Jason Dowdy wants his team to continue after a 3-1 start to the season.
“Our strength is our players, we have great depth. We have to go out and be disciplined,” Dowdy said.
The Wildcats spent the holiday break scrimmaging Fort Gibson, Seminole and Bethel. Dowdy said his team has been gearing up for rival Eufaula tonight with conditioning and working on finishing out the game.
“Last year after the break, we broke down defensively,” he said.
CHANGING APPEARANCE – The Eufaula Ironheads will have a brand new floor to play on going in to the second half of the season. Eufaula looks to improve on their 3-1 start Friday against rival Checotah.
“We were off until the day after Christmas while the new floor was installed,” said head coach Bradley Campbell. “We scrimmaged Prague, Oktaha, Henryetta, and Roland.”
Coach Campbell has been impressed at the break with front-court play from Daxton Williams and Gage Durrett. “We expected to be a guard-oriented team but have turned into an inside team,” he said. “We need to get better overall guard play and shoot better from the perimeter.”
GAINING TRUST – The Wagoner Bulldogs got off to a shaky start at 1-2 but coming out of the break hope to have more contributions from four football players who came out late. Wagoner faces Catoosa at home today.
One of those Wagoner coach Jason Giddens is counting on most is 6-foot-2 Anthony Ashley.
“We need more minutes from him. He’s getting in better basketball shape. He started two of them but just hasn’t gotten the minutes I’m expecting and needing.”
Giddens sees the team jelling as the season resumes.
“We got better as we went along,” said Giddens. “We are a young team, but we have kept our composure and have played well so far and defensively, we’ll trust each other more.”
UNBEATEN CHAMPS — Defending 4A champion and top-ranked Fort Gibson (5-0) got off to a hot start, defeating every opponent in their path The Lady Tigers look to keep rolling Friday night at home against undefeated 4A No. 17 Locust Grove.
“We spent time during the break being us,” said FGHS head coach Jerry Walker. “We worked hard on fundamentals, conditioning, and better execution.”
Overall the Lady Tigers have looked efficient in all areas, but Walker isn’t totally satisfied. He said he is looking for players in the paint to step up more.
“We’re looking to perfect what we have set in motion,” Walker said.
FINDING RHYTHM – For Hilldale and coach Scott Hensley, it’s all about finding their rhythm and coming together as a team after the long break. Just four games in to the season, the Lady Hornets are sitting at 2-2.
“After four games I felt like we were really improving rebounding the ball,” said Hensley. “We just have to get comfortable and find a groove.”
Hensley believes that the Lady Hornets’ positive attitude and work ethic will be the key factors to determine their success this year. Hilldale opens up today on the road against a much improved club in Okmulgee.
ENJOYING DIVERSITY – The unranked Porum Lady Panthers are off to a great start at 6-1 in Class A and faces a test to resume play today against unbeaten No. 16 Arkoma.
Balance has been the key.
“We have had seniors and freshmen lead us in scoring this year,” said Bobbie Wheat. “We always play nine and we’re young. We’ve gone back to the fundamentals, we’re healthy and we want to stay that way.”
Resuming play, she said, “We just have to stay healthy and play smart. I’d like to see players attack the bucket more.”
TAHLEQUAH SPLITS — In the Siloam Springs, Ark., Holiday Classic, Tahlequah girls (4-3) beat Gentry, Ark., 36-31, outscoring them 15-3 down the stretch to advance to today’s semifinals against Siloam Springs at 7 p.m. Lindsay Wade had 16 points. Tahlequah was 11-of-13 from the free-throw line, Gentry was 3-of-18.
Tahlequah lost the boys game 64-54 against Charleston, Ark.
Tahlequah at Siloam Springs Holiday Classic
6:30/8 p.m. games below:
Hilldale at Okmulgee
Eufaula at Checotah
Catoosa at Wagoner
Locust Grove at Fort Gibson
Arkoma at Porum