The six area basketball teams that advanced to the state tournament found out on Sunday when and where their quarterfinal games will take place.
In Class 6A, the Muskogee boys and girls, who last advanced to the state tournament as a pair in 1988, will play their Class 6A quarterfinal games in different locations. The Roughers, 14-12 and making their first appearance at the state tournament in four years, go up against No. 1 Putnam City West (24-2) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Catoosa, looking to avenge a 53-41 loss to the Patriots in the 2010 quarterfinals.
“I thought us playing the schedule we did, and going to places we did early on, helped prepare us for this moment,” said Muskogee boys coach Josh Berry. “It’s tough to make it to state in any class, but 6A is a real big deal.”
The No. 8 Lady Roughers (22-4), whose last appearance at state was a 50-34 quarterfinal loss to Midwest City in 2012, play the No. 4 Lady Bombers (21-5) at 2 p.m. Thursday in Skiatook. Muskogee girls coach Doyle Rowland is sure his team’s best game is yet to come.
“They’ve matured quite a bit,” he said. “But they still have a long way to go. Hopefully coming down the stretch, they’ll produce. A state championship for girls basketball has never been done here and that would be a dream come true.”
In Class 4A, the defending state champion and No. 1 Fort Gibson Lady Tigers (27-1), who are appearing in the state tournament for the 10th straight year, go up against the No. 9 Elgin Lady Owls (20-5) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
The Lady Tigers had to defeat arch-rival Hilldale in the area consolation championship game on Saturday to earn their berth, the second straight year they’ve had to play a win-or-go-home game to keep their season alive, and Fort Gibson girls coach Jerry Walker said his squad still has some improvement to do.
“First and foremost, we’ve got to shoot the ball better,” he said. “We’re at the part of the season now where you just go out and play. The pressure’s off, you’re at the state tournament. Everybody’s going to play hard there and the team can relax and play their game is the team that will win.”
The No. 6 Fort Gibson boys (24-3), who advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2010 by beating No. 1 Victory Christian in the Area IV area championship game last Friday, get the Stilwell Indians (23-5) in their quarterfinal game at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Yukon High School.
“Our goals at the beginning of the season were to do the best we can and be playing our best at this time of the year,” said Fort Gibson boys coach Gary Hendrix. “I think we’re doing that. There’s still a lot to shoot for – a chance to win a game, win two games and maybe win three games and win a state championship.”
The only school in the area where both teams are making return trips to state is Sequoyah in Class 3A. The No. 5 Indians (23-3) have a rematch with No. 7 Sperry (24-5), whom they defeated 73-65 in last year’s 3A quarterfinals, at 2 p.m. Thursday at Carl Albert High School. Should they win that game, another rematch looms on the horizon as Sequoyah could face No. 1 Okemah (26-1), who plays No. 9 Heritage Hall (20-5) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, who eliminated the Indians 55-35 in last year’s semifinals.
“It’s really fulfilling to see your team achieve what you hope they can,” said Indians coach Jay Herrin. “Even though you’ve got to attend to the day-to-day things which you look down the road and think we can get back hopefully compete for a state championship. And be ready to take it to the next level and get to Saturday.”
The No. 5 Lady Indians (25-2) play No. 9 Heritage Hall (19-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Southern Nazarene University in their quarterfinal game. A win over the Lady Chargers could pit Sequoyah against No. 1 Adair (26-1), who plays No. 8 Hugo (21-5) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, who knocked out the Lady Indians 61-39 in last year’s quarters.
The Lady Indians had one setback on the road to state when they lost leading scorer Audrey Ballou to a season-ending injury in the district championship win over Keys. Coach Larry Callison said while what Ballou brings to the table has been missed, he’s proud that his girls have pulled together and persevered.
“It really affected us more than I though it would, especially in the area tournament” he said. “Cenia Hayes had a really good game against Vian and her sister Sierra Polk I thought did a great job on the boards. Then our bench gave us some help and I thought our girls reached down and did it when they had to.”
All semifinal games will be played on Friday. The Class 6A semifinals will be at the Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University while Class 4A will have their semifinals in the same locations as the quarterfinals. The Class 3A boys will move to State Fair Arena for their semis while the girls stay at Southern Nazarene.
The Class 6A championship games will take place at the Mabee Center while the championship games for Class 4A and 3A will be at State Fair Arena.