No. 2: Sequoyah
Larry Callison remembers the time he was talked to about the job prior to Angel Goodrich’s arrival. He didn’t have the interest in coaching girls. That job went to Bill Nobles, who directed the Lady Indians to three consecutive 3A state championships and four finals trips.
Callison was offered the job as a laycoach last spring and this time, despite being set at a home in Claremore, decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth again.
“This is a high pressure job but I wouldn’t want to go to a place where I wouldn’t have a chance to be successful, and we definitely have that,’ said Callison, who coached Eufaula, Boynton and Ketchum’s boys before handing over the Ketchum job to his son Grant two seasons ago.
“We have a lot of depth and I think that’s a key because we can go 10-11 deep without hurting us too much. There’s no superstar but a lot with no differences. We may not be as quick as other teams but we can go both big and small and we won’t give up the full court pressure. That’s the way I’ve always coached.”
Four starters return – seniors Loren Young (5-10, forward), Kelsey Leach (5-6, guard), Audrey Ballou (5-9, forward) and Feather Pacheco (5-5, guard) and a transfer starter from Tahlequah, junior Jhonett Cookson (6-1, center).
Ballou averaged 15.6 points and 7 rebounds and Jones averaged 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2 assists on a team that finished 19-8 and made the 3A quarterfinals.
Losses were significant off a 26-3 team that lost in the 2A Area IV consolation finals.
Jaylie Roper is recovered from knee surgery this summer. Her back is OK too and that’s a good thing because she’s the dominant returnee on a squad that lost three starters.
Roper, a 5-11 senior forward, brings a 12.6 point scoring average with 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 steals to one forward spot. Haley Baldridge is a junior who returns.
Then there’s seven sophomores who coach Chester Pittman expects to see something out of, among them Shae Lynch and Jordan Austin.
“The sophomore group will make us more athletic than we were last year but they’re going to have to step up fast because everyone is going to be looking for Jaylie. How much that happens will determine how far we go.”
Another factor may be the move from 2A to 3A this season. It takes Oktaha away from state nemeses Northeast, Millwood and Preston but gains them Sequoyah and Adair.
“Two years ago we lost three starters and everyone thought we’d be down because they were quality starters,” Pittman said. “But we found girls that filled those roles.”