By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
The 34th Bedouin Shrine Classic basketball tournament has new leadership and a new schedule twist.
Keith Olmstead takes over as tournament director, though former director Leonard Branan still has a role as part of the board and will be part of things, Olmstead said.
“It’s really not that he’s gone away but he needed to limit his role a little and you might say I got stuck with it,” Olmstead said with a laugh. “But believe me, Leonard will still be very visible.”
Also clear is the schedule changes for the first four nights of the tournament. The small school divisions will occupy the evening sessions (7:30 and 9 p.m.) and the large school divisions the matinee slots (4:30 and 6 p.m.) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Part of that is some of our large school entries felt it was so late to get back during the week with their kids,” Olmstead said. “We’re trying it out this way and will look at the option of rotating it each year. But we also think this will make the early crowds bigger since some of the small schools tend to bring more people.”
That change will tend to help McAlester boys and girls and Enid girls, easily the farthest schools among the large schools. Yet Santa Fe South out of Oklahoma City is in the small school division.
Jenks boys, Muskogee girls and Spiro boys and girls are the defending champions. Muskogee will go for a fifth consecutive title when it begins play on Tuesday against Tulsa Hale at 4:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.
Rowland not only finds himself in a new time frame, but with a squad with one starter back but so far this season is off to a 5-1 start.
“This is something new to me but whatever the powers that be say. We’ll play any day, any time. I just hope our crowd is there,” Rowland said.
“These girls haven’t been in this situation before but I don’t know if that’s going to be a factor or not because they don’t play afraid. All they do is get after it and play. It’s probably one of the best groups I’ve had in terms of their heart and love for the game and I like how they’ve dome together.”
Enid, who Muskogee beat in last year’s final, is seeded second. Hilldale is fourth but beat McAlester, which ended up with the third seed, in last year’s tournament.
The Muskogee, Sequoyah and Coweta boys could challenge Jenks, who is 1-2 so far this season. Muskogee’s only loss was 60-48 against Broken Arrow, which also knocked off the Trojans 71-67. Sequoyah has the core back from a 3A semifinal run last year and Coweta is ranked in the 5A top 10.
Sequoyah’s girls are playing out of a small school division that includes an unbeaten Oktaha team and Spiro, which ended Oktaha’s three-peat bid in overtime a year ago. The 3A quarterfinalist from last season should make this a three-team race and drew the top seed this year, making this arguably the most competitive of the three brackets and boosted by prime-time 7:30 p.m. starts during the week.
“We’re going to have a bigger crowd, there’s no doubt about that,” Oktaha coach Chester Pittman said. “We normally draw well anyway but when you’re talking 4:30, a lot of people are still working.”
Off to a 7-0 start, Spiro appears to be a clear favorite in the Small School Boys division. Oktaha, a finalist a year ago after winning the previous season, hopes to make this a third straight matchup with Spiro in the finals but has struggled to a 1-4 start. Haskell (4-2) might have something to say about that. The Haymakers have knocked off Oktaha and earned another quality win against Beggs. Hulbert’s schedule hasn’t been too difficult but the Riders at 4-2 could also mount a challenge.
Bedouin Shrine breakdown
Large School Boys
Muskogee (4-1, No. 15 in 6A) — Senior trio of Tramal Ivy, Anthony King and David Beasley are three-year starters primed for a run.
Jenks (1-2, No. 13 in 6A) — Snow has slowed the Trojans, whose only three games have been against Frontier Conference foes Bixby (win), Owasso and Broken Arrow.
Sequoyah (6-1, No. 5 in 3A) – Only loss was a four-pointer in the Inola tournament against Fort Gibson. The Indians have a pair of wins against ranked 5A teams in Pryor and McAlester.
Checotah (4-1 in 4A) — The Wildcats started 3-0 then lost to Henryetta in overtime.
McAlester (4-3, No. 19 in 5A) – Beat 3A No. 4 Hugo to open year, losses to Metro Christian, Sequoyah in overtime and 5A No. 12 Ardmore.
Coweta (5-2, No. 9 in 5A) — Toughest run was a 1-2 stint in the Tahlequah tourney, losing to Moore and in overtime to Van Buren, Ark. In between they beat Sapulpa and ended pre-holiday portion with a win against 4A No. 11 Tulsa Central.
Tulsa Hale (1-5 in 5A) — Two losses to top 10 teams in 6A Tulsa Washington and 5A Tulsa Memorial.
Hilldale (1-4 in 4A) — Hornets opened with win against Wagoner, lost their top guard, then haven’t won since.
Small School Boys
Spiro (7-0, No. 4 in 3A) — Bulldogs have an 11-point win against B No. 4 Red Oak but have also blasted their past three opponents (Muldrow, Panama and Acorn, Ark., by an average of 49 points.
Haskell (4-2 in 3A) – Has quality wins against Beggs and Oktaha.
Oktaha (1-4 in 3A) – Uncharacteristic start for the Tigers since a blowout win against Crowder to open the year.
OKC Santa Fe (2-3 in 4A) – Has yet to win consecutive games.
Porter (3-4 in 2A) – Pirates rebuilding under first-year coach Rick Tipton.
Summit Christian (3-4 in 2A) – Consolation winners in the Nowata tourney have lost three straight, including to 4A No. 1 Victory Christian.
Hulbert (4-2 in 2A) — Riders’ only losses were a 12-point semifinal loss in the Greenleaf Invitational to Oaks and a 21-point defeat at Kansas last Saturday.
Hilldale JV – Hornet underclassmen fill in spot in lower bracket.
Large School Girls
Muskogee (5-1, No. 7 in 6A) — Four-time defending champions’ rebuilding campaign has been ultra-smooth so far in a 5-1 start.
Enid (4-2, No. 18 in 6A) — Lost in the finals to Muskogee last year and Courtney Chelf, the sister of OSU quarterback Clint Chelf, has graduated.
Hilldale (3-2, No. 19 in 4A) — Led by All-Phoenix Newcomer of the Year Katie Kirkhart, the Lady Hornets could mount its most serious challenge as a tourney participant.
McAlester (1-5 5A) — The Lady Buffs have been better with two losses of 20 points or more, including a 22-point setback against Sequoyah.
Coweta (1-5 in 5A) — Was 0-for-3 at the Tahlequah tourney and won its first game Dec. 19 against Tulsa Central.
Tulsa Hale (0-5 in 5A) — Hasn’t hit 20 points in three games.
Checotah (3-2 in 4A) — The Ladycats were 2-1 before a 31-point spanking against Beggs before Friday’s win over cross-county rival Eufaula.
Tulsa Webster (3-2 in 4A) — Enter tourney with wins of 41 and 49 points against Tulsa Central and Tulsa McLain.
Small School Girls
Sequoyah (6-1, No. 5 in 3A) — The defending state quarterfinalists could contend in either bracket, which is Oktaha’s tough luck the Lady Indians aren’t in the large school grouping like their male counterparts. The Lady Indians have won four straight.
Oktaha (6-0, No. 8 in 3A) — The Lady Tigers have wins ranging from 16 to 41 points thus far until a three-point scare against 3A No. 20 Wilburton before the break.
Spiro (4-2, No. 20 in 3A) – Defending champs wins have been in the double-digit range with a loss to B. No. 2 Red Oak by 24.
Hulbert (4-2 in 2A) – The Lady Riders were runners-up in the Greenleaf Invitational.Summit Christian (3-4 in 2A) — Bruising schedule so far has three ranked teams in 2A-4A.
Porter (2-4 in 2A) — Coach Bill Nobles’ team is 0-2 so far in tournament play, losing both its games in the Greenleaf Tournament.
Haskell (1-5 in 3A) — Hampered by injuries, Haskell comes in with a five-game losing streak.
Summit Christian (3-4 in 2A) — Tough schedule with blowout losses to 2A top 10 members Ketchum and Kiefer early and just before the break, a similar outcome against 4A No. 11 Victory Christian.
Cookson Hills – School arrives out of the Oklahoma Christian Schools Athletic Association.
Bedouin Shrine brackets
Large School Boys
Game 1 – Jenks vs Checotah, Muskogee HS, 6 p.m.
Game 2 – Hilldale vs. Muskogee, Civic Center, 6 p.m.
Game 3 – McAlester vs. Sequoyah, CC, 6 p.m.
Game 4 – Coweta vs. Tulsa Hale, MHS, 6 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, MHS, 6 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, CC, 6 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, CC, 6 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, MHS, 6 p.m.
Game 9 – Seventh-place game, Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, Hilldale HS, 1:30 p.m.
Game 10 – Consolation final, Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, MHS, 1:30 p.m.
Game 11 – Third-place game, Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, CC, 1:30 p.m.
Game 12 – Finals, Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, CC, 9 p.m.
Large School Girls
Game 1 – Hilldale vs. Coweta, Civic Center, 4:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Enid vs Checotah, Muskogee HS, 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Muskogee vs. Tulsa Hale, CC, 4:30 p.m.
Game 4 – Tulsa Webster vs. McAlester, MHS, 4:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, MHS, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, CC, 4:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, CC, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, MHS, 4:30 p.m.
Game 9 – Seventh-place game, Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, Hilldale HS, noon
Game 10 – Consolation final, Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, MHS, noon
Game 11 – Third-place game, Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, CC, noon
Game 12 – Finals, Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, CC, 7:30 p.m.
Small School Boys
Game 1 – Haskell vs. OKC Santa Fe South, Civic Center, 9 p.m.
Game 2 – Porter vs. Oktaha, Muskogee HS, 9 p.m.
Game 3 – Spiro vs. Hilldale JV, CC, 9 p.m.
Game 4 – Hulbert vs. Summit Christian, MHS, 9 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, MHS, 9 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, CC, 9 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, CC, 9 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, MHS, 9 p.m.
Game 9 – Seventh-place game, Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, Hilldale HS, 10:30 a.m.
Game 10 – Consolation final, Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, MHS, 10:30 a.m.
Game 11 – Third-place game, Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, CC, 10:30 a.m.
Game 12 – Finals, Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, CC, 6 p.m.
Small School Girls
Game 1 – Haskell vs. Summit Christian, Civic Center, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Porter vs. Oktaha, Muskogee HS, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Sequoyah vs. Cookson Hills, MHS, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 – Spiro vs. Hulbert, CC, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, CC, 7:30 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, MHS, 7:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 8 – Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, CC, 7:30 p.m.
Game 9 – Seventh-place game, Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, Hilldale HS, 9 a.m.
Game 10 – Consolation final, Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, MHS, 9 a.m.
Game 11 – Third-place game, Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, CC, 9 a.m.
Game 12 – Finals, Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, CC, 4:30 p.m.