By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
It was supposed to be the first of two matchups of ex-Lady Roughers.
Instead, it’ll amount to a homecoming game for Coffeyville (Kan.)’s Chelsie Keys and Deanna Moore when the former Muskogee High players get to Warner tonight for a 6 p.m. tipoff against Connors State.
Keys, a 6-foot-1 sophomore starting forward, is averaging a team-high 16.7 and 9.3 rebounds. for Coffeyville (7-7). Moore, a 6-5 sophomore center, is averaging 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds while battling a knee issue. Both Keys and Moore were instrumental in Muskogee’s run to the Class 6A quarterfinals in 2012.
On the opposite side is Mari Jackson for Connors (3-9), who took up some of that inside gap left by Keys and Moore’s departure last season as Muskogee narrowly missed a return state ticket. However, Jackson is in Chicago with her family and her ailing father and won’t be back until later in the week at least.
On Saturday in Tulsa, two other Muskogee exes will square off when Oral Roberts with Alexus Wilson take on Central Arkansas with Kelsey McClure at the Mabee Center. The two guards were there two years ago in the state tournament and narrowly missed a return trip as seniors.
But first, barring weather issues, is the battle in Warner.
“We’re excited about playing close to home,” Keys said.
In a 93-53 win against Connors in Coffeyville on Nov. 15, she scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds with a high of 32 points so far. Moore, who transferred to Coffeyville after a year at Prairie View A&M, had 10 points off the bench.
“We had a lot of energy, a lot of defense that led us to our offense and that was pretty much how it went,” Keys said.
Defense that leads to offense was a familiar tune sung by her former staff at Muskogee. But she says, college ball has been much broader than that.
“Like you hear it’s a faster game,” she said. “We run out of plays more, it’s not as much freestyle as it was and you work to get the ball inside more up here. Plus it’s adjusting to a new coaching staff. We went from three men and one woman to a head coach and assistant here.”
Emily Washburn is her current head coach.
“Her overall game has improved in a year. She’s become more versatile. We look for her to score but defensively I’m comfortable matching her up against a point guard or a center,” Washburn said. “She plays well in transition and she’s got a future in this.”
Washburn said several Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and Conference USA teams are recruiting her but declined to give specific teams. “Some she’s interested in, others not as much,” Washburn said.
Regarding Moore, Washburn said the biggest obstacle has been the iloitbial band in her knee.
“She’s not needing surgery but it’s been nagging enough that we’ve tried to baby it a little to help bring it around,” Washburn said. “One thing about Deanna is she works hard at her game, particularly her post moves and her work around the basketball.”
The 6-3 Moore has found a niche in this offense.
“This is a post-oriented offense and it’s set up for me to get to the basket easier and I think I’m taking advantage of that. Hopefully I can get 100 percent soon.”
Jackson has seen limited duty for Connors averaging 5.8 points per game as a freshman.