, Muskogee, OK

February 19, 2013

Scoping out the playoff landscape

Phoenix staff report

Class 6A

BOYS — Muskogee’s best hope is the third time’s a charm. The Roughers (8-15) are 0-2 against Union (14-9) including Friday’s regular-season finale. The winner gets a likely matchup with regional host Stillwater (16-6).

GIRLS — The Lady Roughers (18-5) are home, where they haven’t lost since Jan. 4. However they enter regionals having lost three of their last four and are 3-2 against the field. The blowout tournament win against Moore should get them into next week — the question is whether they’ll climb up from the loser’s bracket. Broken Arrow and Sapulpa both split with the Lady Roughers in the regular season. Lose the regional final against either and they’ll have to win two at area, with a likely matchup against Union or Bixby, which just got word that post Stevi Parker has been cleared to return from an ankle injury. Win and they take a 20-win season into an area championship game against the Bixby-Union winner, one game from a repeat trip to state.

Class 5A

BOYS — Tahlequah (8-15) is the third seed of four, drawing No. 14 Chickasha and should they win there, they get host Coweta, a team that is 2-0 against them this season.

GIRLS — No. 7 Tahlequah (13-9) again hosts a regional and will need to beat Coweta a third time to move into next week and prior to that, the regional final against either No. 13 Guthrie or No. 18 Chickasha.

Class 4A

Area IV has Fort Gibson in the winner’s bracket and Hilldale, Checotah and Wagoner one loss away from elimination. The Tigers (20-3), ranked No. 6, would seem to have a smooth road through regionals as host with only Muldrow, at No. 19, ranked.  But the Tigers’ Thursday opponent, Stilwell, has a double-digit win over Sequoyah.The Tigers beat Muldrow 63-58 in the Old Fort Classic finals. Winning area will be a bigger hurdle as No. 1 Roland at 23-1 and winner of the Tournament of Champions back in December looms from the other side of the bracket.  Of the area one-loss teams, athletic Checotah (13-11)  is the most likely to win three games this weekend to remain alive, starting with Byng on Thursday. Hilldale (5-18) and Wagoner (9-15) have struggled all season.

GIRLS — The No. 2 FGHS girls (23-0) have No. 6 Byng and No. 7 Roland on the opposite side of the bracket but like their male counterparts, have a regional that appears to be easily managed. They beat Muldrow, a regional finals possibility, in the Old Fort Classic finals when they weren’t as on top of their game as they are now.  The Lady Tigers’ best win was against 3A No. 4 Verdigris.  Roland swept Muldrow and Byng has won 14 of its last 15. Look for Hilldale (16-8), which stumbled against Inola in districts, to offer the best challenge among one-loss area teams — Wagoner (3-21) and Checotah (3-17) are the others.

Class 3A

Area I is loaded for No. 8 Sequoyah (16-8), which draws 14th-ranked Beggs on Thursday and has No. 7 Henryetta as a possible regional final foe, a team the Indians have split with, winning by 18 just over a week ago. The other side of the bracket has No. 1 Oklahoma Centennial and No. 8 Oklahoma Christian as the top winner’s bracket teams. The Indians also have to deal with the distraction surrounding point guard Caisen Green, who sparked controversy this past weekend over a post of a pit bull he allegedly killed in his front yard with an arrow. Haskell (9-15), a longshot for a second consecutive state trip, needs to win three this week.

In Area III, No. 15 Keys (12-11) also eyes a state tourney return. The Cougars are among six top 20 teams and face No. 20 Dewey on Thursday.  Possible for a regional final clash is No. 5 Sperry. On the other end, playing at the Muskogee Civic Center this weekend, is 19th-ranked Westville  and No. 11 Kansas and eventually,  No. 4 Verdigris, as well as Vian coming out of the consolation bracket should it get a win on Thursday in consolation play at Verdigris.

Eufaula (13-10) is in the winner’s bracket on the opposite side of the bracket. The Ironheads have lost twice to Beggs this season and face Sperry on Thursday.

GIRLS — Area I’s Sequoyah (17-7) is 1-4 against all-class top 10 teams and plays No. 7 Beggs on Thursday. On the other side of the bracket is No. 2 and unbeaten Perkins-Tryon and 17th-ranked Kellyville. Like their boys team, Haskell’s girls (10-14) also must win three straight and at least two of the above will be roadblocks to that happening.

Eufaula (17-6) enters regional in Area III at No. 8 and could get No. 4 and unbeaten Adair in a regional final matchup — or the Keys Lady Cougars (11-10), whose hope in an upset of Adair is keeping Sidney Rainbolt out of her typical foul trouble.  In next week’s area tourney at Fort Gibson, No. 3 Verdigris and No. 14 Kansas are likely loomers. The Lady Ironheads have won six consecutive since a loss to Hilldale for third place at the Old Fort Classic. Vian (13-7) has Verdigris on Thursday and a win would put them at the Muskogee Civic Center against Kansas or Hartshorne.

Class 2A

  In Area IV, should No. 6 Oktaha (21-4) beat Pocola on Thursday the Tigers should face No. 10 Wewoka. The only team in the area bracket ranked higher is No. 4 Haworth. A loser in districts to No. 17 Preston, Porter (18-6) is a possibility out of the consolation bracket. Phoenix MVP Jacob Richardson has had two 50-point games and averages well over 25 points per game, but one of those 50s came against Preston last Saturday.

In Area III, Hulbert (13-11) was the top seeded team in its district but dropped a one-point decision to Mounds, so the Riders must win three games this week to extend their season.

GIRLS — The road for Hulbert (16-8) in Area III, though unbeaten after districts as it heads into the Mounds regional, is dicey. No. 1 Northeast is Thursday. No. 7 Colbert and No. 14 Quapaw are also in their regional.

No. 8 Oktaha at 24-1 in Area IV has No. 19 Talihina on Thursday in Panama with either No. 7 Colbert or Savanna next. The road for Okay (11-13) requires three wins.

Class B

A week ahead of all other classes, Midway (21-4) is three wins from a state berth but is coming off a 34-point loss to No. 2 Lomega and will either have to exact revenge or knock off No. 4 Red Oak should Lomega win that matchup. First, Midway would have to win two, starting with Eagletown on Thursday.