, Muskogee, OK


November 17, 2013

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Champs still at the top: Fort Gibson loaded, but Sequoyah’s not far behind

Savannah Gray won’t be discussing any graduation party plans with anyone on Fort Gibson’s basketball team this season.

Next year? They’ll have to watch interrupting each other.

Gray is the lone senior surrounded by eight juniors in what looks to be a nine-player rotation. Yet there’s plenty of basketball ability for the Lady Tigers to make a run at a repeat title in Class 4A, starting the year as the No. 1 team in the Phoenix Super 7.

“Well I’m OK being the only senior. It’s definitely good for Coach Walker because they’ll be around for a while,” she said, referring to the architect of this program, Jerry Walker.

“We’ve got some inexperience but by the end of the year we may be better than last year’s team.”

If they’re equally good, that could be sufficient.

Try this: During a recent 3-point drill, shooting as many as you can in a minute’s time, Gray was 17-of-22. Allie Glover was 18-of-24. Then with 25 shots from one spot outside the arc, both along with Jayme Hill, hit 16.

“We’re pretty deep in shooting ability and have much better guard play and more experience,” FGHS coach Jerry Walker said.

They’ve mixed it up well with 6A powers Edmond Santa Fe and Midwest City in scrimmages and dominated 3A power Adair.

OK, so they graduated the MVP of the state tournament in Brooke Palmer and what Walker said was a “mental part” of the team in a coach on the floor, Taylor London. The Lady Tigers, who are 85-3 the past three seasons, winning two titles in that span, are solidly in a reload mode in what has become one of if not the elite basketball program in Class 4A.

Glover averaged 11 points and 3 rebounds as a sophomore, Gray 7 points and 7 rebounds, but they’ll hardly carry the offense.

And they’re taller on average than past teams have been. CheyAnne Johnson, a 6-0 forward, averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds. They’ve also got a healthy Susie Kilpatrick, a 6-3 junior who has battled leg and back injuries for two seasons. Healthy at the moment, Walker senses a breakout year at least in some parts of her game and he knows that in both state title games, post play has been a decisive determinant in the outcome.

“It’s not like she can’t score but then we didn’t know how good a scorer Brooke was until she got the opportunity,” Walker said. “But we know what her defense is about.”

Hill, another sharpshooter, is a 5-10 junior guard. Desiree Phillips (5-9, guard, junior), Grace Parker (5-6, guard, junior) and Izzy Hubbert (5-6, guard, junior) will also get quality minutes. Phipps, a junior, moved to Fort Gibson from Tahlequah where she tore her ACL early last season after starting as a freshman.

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