MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 18, 2013

Charged-up Midway in search of respect

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— Reflect on the area’s top girls basketball programs and thoughts may turn to Fort Gibson or Oktaha, or even Sequoyah or Muskogee.

But another program is starting to getting noticed.

Midway is making its own kind of noise with a 14-2 record and ranked No. 16 in the Okrankings.com Class B poll this week. It started out at No. 19  at the end of 2012 and has moved up.

It’s not a rapid surge up the poll, mind you.

“I understand why we really don’t have many people looking at us because we haven’t had much success in the past,” Hailee Truesdell, the Lady Chargers’ lone senior starter, said.

Midway’s success just isn’t of late though. It finished 20-8, losing in the regional consolation final a year ago.

“We’ve really been overlooked in our class,” coach Spencer Phipps said. “I thought we should’ve gone to the area round last year, but we didn’t and that’s probably the main reason we’re not ranked higher than we are.”

That’s frustrating to the players.

“But we’re doing better this year,” Truesdell said. “Not getting much attention fuels our fire. We definitely want to win more games and make a statement.”

The Lady Chargers have had two winning streaks this season of seven games each. The second is active and they’ll look to make it eight when they play at Gans tonight.

“Gans is pretty good and been in and out of the rankings in Class A,” Phipps said. “We beat them (48-39) at our place. It should be a good game.”

The Lady Chargers are 48-43 in his four years of leading the program, starting with a 2-20 record in his first season, improving to 13-13 two years ago and then last year’s finish.

“We’ve gotten better because we’ve put in a lot of hard work,” Phipps said. “To tell you the truth, we’ve made our living on the defensive end. We’re holding people to 35 points per game.”

The other starters are juniors Brittanie Barnard, Courtnei Conley, Zadie McElhaney and Joanna VanBrunt.

“There’s no secret potion to our success,” Phipps said. “We’ve been blessed with a good group of girls. We’re just going about our business and trying to let our play do the talking.”

The Lady Chargers are constantly talking amongst themselves about getting the attention they think they deserve.

“That’s been our goal this season,” Truesdell said. “We know we have the physical talent, but we don’t want to lose focus on why we’re playing.”