MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 14, 2013

Prep year a mix of the joyful, lumps and bumps and some in-between

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— It was an omen that afternoon, just after putting the wraps on a football preview section, when yours truly went down — and couldn’t get up — and missed the first three weeks of football season.

Torn ACL and concussion victims, I felt you.

It’s been a season with bumps and lumps and after we all were back on track, a few shining moments.

Okay vs. Copan, 4A volleyball quarterfinals: A dramatic five-set match sends the Lady Mustangs past that point in the postseason for the first time since 1997.

Okay vs. Cache, 4A volleyball semifinals: The Lady Mustangs get within a set of advancing a step further but lose the final three sets, ending the career of three-time All-Phoenix MVP Bristen Graves.

The OSSAA vs. Sequoyah: First the Lady Indians were forced to forfeit their slowpitch title of 2012, then lost the fastpitch title on the field in the bottom of the seventh. Then there was the football team’s disqualification from the postseason and the housecleaning that brought in a new athletic director, football coach, slowpitch coach and four changes in the girls basketball job within six months. In the end, they got the slowpitch title back, only to lose in its defense, and both its basketball teams made state.

Pit-Bull Lovers vs. Sequoyah’s Caisen Green: Caisen Green learned a hard lesson on social media during basketball season. If you have to kill a dog for security’s sake, do so quietly and never, ever boast about it online. His post went viral, leading to increased security around him and the basketball team during one postseason game — but with no incidents — and Green was cleared of any wrongdoing.

• Vian vs. Hennessey, 2A football quarterfinals. A day of revenge for the Wolverines.

• Vian vs. Davis, 2A football semifinals. An oncoming train they did not see.

• Anadarko vs. Our Guys: The least it could have done was win state after knocking off Fort Gibson, then Wagoner, in the quarterfinals and semis. Hey and before we quit talking football — how about one last shout-out to Hilldale and Warner for nice postseason runs?

• Muskogee girls basketball vs. Class 6A Area tournament: Talk about another unexpected train. Losing to Booker T. wasn’t as much — the Lady Hornets went on to win state — but it was a game that Muskogee seemed to have in its grasp on several occasions. But the loss to Union in the consolation final, a team they beat by 20 at home, was one heck of a bitter pill to swallow for a team that looked like an Elite Eight cinch.  I’d have lost the house on this one, so it’s a good thing we don’t bet on high school sports.

• Fort Gibson vs. Byng, 4A Area girls basketball finals: Yeah, it’s not the 58-43 win over Mount St. Mary’s for the gold ball. But without the 57-46 wakeup call and the Lady Tigers’ only loss of the season, there wouldn’t have been a gold ball. That team was sleepwalking in the playoffs until it hit that wall.

• Fort Gibson Lady Tigers vs. the water.  They’ve got this swimming state title thing down pat — as in three in a row.

• Tahlequah’s Jessica Hembree vs. the 5A cross country field: There would be no broken leg mere feet from the finish line, the only thing that kept this girl from a career sweep at state.

• Muskogee’s Jacobe Smith vs. The Decision: With the score tied at 3-3 in his  Class 6A 152-pound state wrestling title match, Smith had a plan against Bartlesville’s Michael Hamilton, but it backfired on him. He intentionally allowed Hamilton a one-point escape in hopes of getting a two-point takedown, but couldn’t pull it off. It was his only loss to an Oklahoman all year in a 42-2 campaign.

• The Old East vs. The New East: Used to, Muskogee and Tahlequah owned this side of the state in slowpitch softball and at times, the west side too. Since Union, Jenks and Broken Arrow began playing softball all within the last few years, Union has won two, Jenks one, and neither MHS or THS has been to a final since Muskogee last won in 2009.  And this time, a matter of three defensive miscues might have changed all of that for the locals, who gave Union its biggest sweat of the tournament.

• Eufaula girls golf vs. the world: The Ironheads have their first team state title in any sport thanks to this year’s golf team.

• Hilldale girls golf vs. Mother Nature and the 4A field: The Lady Hornets were champs in an 18-hole tournament thanks to January intersecting with May for what almost amounted to freezing rain.

• Vian and Fort Gibson vs. Verdigris: It’s best summed up this way. Vian’s Rowdy Simon was 3-for-3 in the Class 3A baseball championship game against Verdigris last Saturday. He was also the losing pitcher in a 7-1 setback against the Verdigris Cardinals. He and his family left Edmond about 3ish for a trek up Interstate 44 to Tulsa to see Rowdy’s girlfriend, Taylor Gandara, and the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers soccer team in their own state championship game. The Lady Tigers lost 3-0 — to Verdigris.

If they wind up married in a few years, it’ll be a heck of a story to gripe to their kids about. Otherwise, it’s just a bittersweet date.

Which as you can see, we’ve had a mix of.

But the good times rolled too.