McAlester, OK 74501
Record: 6-5 | Rank: 10
|@ Nathan Hale||W||0-55|
|vs Edison Prep||L||13-25|
|@ Bishop Kelley||W||19-35|
OSSAA 1st Round at McAlester HS
|vs Carl Albert|
OSSAA 2nd Round at Carl Albert HS
| Ben Johnson
Owasso recently knocked off Jenks, 14-6, for the Class 6AI championship in Edmond on Dec. 6. It had been determined several weeks before the playoffs started that all 11-man football title games would be played at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium.
But now that the season is over, one state senator is sounding off on the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s decision to force Jenks and Owasso play in a championship game at the other end of the Turner Turnpike.
Sen. J.J. Dossett (D-Sperry) has proposed a bill that he hopes will generate conversation in next year’s legislative session that would allow school districts to determine their playing destination.
Skordle contacted Dossett this weekend and wanted to ask Dossett a few questions.
What made you want to put together the legislation to present it when the legislative session starts in 2020?
Basically, it was the outcry from my community. There are some people that don’t like the idea, or the ideas that I have brought up. I purposely wanted until after the game had happened. I filed it on Monday after the game, because I didn’t want it be become a distraction. There’s enough of an outcry and a complaint that have a good point on why we played the game where we did and why we didn’t play it where we had the last five, six or seven years. It worked out great for everyone involved when it was played at the University of Tulsa. I had to bring it up; I had to bring up the discontent that my community, Jenks and a lot of the Tulsa area have with the decision that was made by a state-wide group -- that forced this decision on us and did not seek our input.
It was basically left to the football coaches association to make this decision, and most of the people involved weren’t going to face the ramifications of their school’s decision. It was made against the two schools that were playing and were against the decision that was made.
There should be a way for more flexibility with your local school districts that are competing in this situation to be able to not have to go play at a place that was deemed ‘this is the state championship site,’ especially when there were all the problems of playing late on a Saturday night. There were going to be how many teenage drivers on the turnpike late on a Saturday night in December? And, the stadium was nowhere near able to hold our crowd.
All of this put together, in my mind, says we need to do this better and there needs to be a way to do this better. There needs to be a way that we can go play this game somewhere else. I mean, we could have played at Broken Arrow and it would have been able to hold our fans. We could have played in a bunch of different stadiums here in the Tulsa area.
I heard there were 8,000 fans at the game at UCO, and at TU there would have been 20,000, so we stopped people from coming to the game by putting that distance barrier there. Nobody wants that; we want the community to come to the game, if possible.
What would you say to the people that say Senate bill 1111 is a waste of everyone’s time and could be spent discussing something else?
There are thousands of bills filled every year -- some of them get picked up and some don’t. It doesn’t waste any more time in committee or on the floor. It’s the legislator’s job to conduct the people’s business, so if a community has an idea or wants to change something, it’s the job of the legislator to consider it and go forward from that. And I agree, this is not the most pressing issue in the state of Oklahoma -- I 100 percent agree -- but if there’s a problem, it’s the job of the legislator to address an issue that their community is considered about. Senate district 34 up here in north Tulsa County, where we live, we definitely had a concern on this issue. Therefore, it’s my job to bring forth such ideas, if the people of my district are concerned about it.
As a former coach, I would like to mention this: I absolutely do not care where we’re playing. We don’t care where we play because we were going to win, and that’s the mindset they have. I speak only, and exclusively, from a community standpoint. The community has an opinion on this, and I happen to 100 percent agree with them. If I were still coaching for the Rams, I wouldn’t care one bit.
So you’re advocating to play the games at the University of Tulsa, if that’s a viable option?
You have to ask, ‘is this the best we can get?’ and I don’t think the current option is the best we can get. We’ve seen what good looks like, and it was last year, the year before and the year before, when two Tulsa teams make the championship game and we fill up Chapman Stadium. In my opinion, the OSSAA wins unless something crooked is going on over there. Because if we’re doubling the amount of people going to the game, they make more money -- or that’s how I understand it. I don’t understand at all why you wouldn’t let local school districts make the best decision for them. If Idabel and McAlester were playing for a championship, then they need to go play that at Eastern (Southeastern Oklahoma State) in Durant. No sense in making those schools drive to Edmond. There needs to be a way out for those schools to be play, and play where it makes sense for the fanbase and a public safety standpoint.
What are your thoughts on playing the Class 6A championship games in Tulsa during the week that they currently use as a bye week?
Sure, that would be an option. They’ve done the bye week because of the amount of teams in the playoff. Honestly, the whole 6AII thing has been a disaster. It’s handed Bixby a bunch of trophies, and it’s been really messed up for my community and I was still coaching when all of it went down. I was still coaching at Owasso at the time. It’s ridiculous for us to travel to Moore -- to play Southmoore or Moore -- and a team that can’t even fill up the home stands and play on a Thursday night. Like, why are we doing this? Why aren’t we playing Sand Springs or Bixby or Muskogee during the regular season, and then do something different for the playoffs, if necessary?
The initiative to have all the championship games played at one site was pushed by the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, but it’s sounding like not all coaches were onboard with that proposal. How do you think that could have been handled differently?
On how the coaches association makes decisions, I do not know. I hear a lot about Texas, and they like it and that’s fine. From my point of view, if two Houston teams make the championship in any given class, for them to go all the way to Dallas is wrong. I don’t buy into the notion of ‘well, Texas does it this way, so we should do it this way.’ It’s the same way with basketball and the big schools playing in Tulsa. If Edmond and Putnam City are playing in the finals, then that’s the wrong decision. I’m not trying to whine; I’m trying to do what’s best for our kids.
What kind of reception do you think this will get when you present it to committee?
Who knows. On these things, you never know. We have these kinds of battles: Tulsa vs. Oklahoma City or urban vs. rural. I will approach other legislators from a straight forward standpoint and say our local school districts are better off when local school districts are making decisions. We don’t need state-wide entities or state agencies making blanket decisions for everyone. I have 100 percent faith that the Owasso administration, athletic director, superintendent and all of the above -- and same at Jenks -- would make the right decision for their kids. But when we had that responsibility over to a group of people that aren’t in our community, then you don’t get as good of an outcome. That’s the way I see this situation playing out here.
There are some that say the Oklahoma legislature should stay out of high school sports. How do you feel about that?
I absolutely agree, if everything is running properly. The legislature cannot determine how the OSSAA operates within, because it’s an agency with it’s own control. There are three things in the statute that says schools will not be part of an association that does this, this or this. What I’ve done is adding a fourth. All my bill does is add language that school districts would have flexibility to pick their own locations for championship games.
| Ben Johnson
GLENPOOL -- When Glenpool starts the 2020 season, the Warriors will have a new head coach for the first time since the mid 90s.
On Thursday, Steve Edwards told Skordle he’s stepping down as the Warriors’ head coach after a 24-year run.
“Been going up and down the sidelines for 35 years,” he said. “It’s time to take a break.”
After serving as an assistant coach in Hominy, Edwards took over at Glenpool in 1996 and led the Warriors to the most successful years in the program’s history.
Glenpool had won only one district championship before Edwards arrived, and he now departs with eight district titles and two state championships (2002 and 2008).
“Through those 24 years at Glenpool, it’s been a really good run,” Edwards said. “Class 4A was good to us for a while.”
Edwards enjoyed a vast amount of success after his father questioned his profession a long time ago.
“I remember my dad asking why I wanted to be a football coach and having to move everywhere,” Edwards recalled. “But that wasn’t the case for me because I’ve ended up being at Glenpool for a long time.”
During his 24-year run at Glenpool, Edwards went 167-109, including a 2-8 season in 2019 to close the book on his tenure with the Warriors.
“Since 1996, we’ve followed the same coaching mantra, ‘make better players, not better plays,’” Edwards said. “It’s been so much more than developing good football players. We’ve always wanted to make sure the young boys turn into great men.”
As for Edwards, he’ll still be in Glenpool as the Warriors’ assistant athletic director. It will allow him more time to watch his sons, Gus and Michael, play football and wrestle.
“I want to sit back and watch them,” Edwards said. “Both have really promising futures in both football and wrestling, I want to be able to watch them.”
And what about coaching? Edwards wouldn’t totally close the book on a return in the future.
“If I still have a hankering to get back into it,” he said, “hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”
Steve Edwards’ career
Seasons: 24 (all as Glenpool head coach)
District titles: 8
State titles: 2
| Ben Johnson
Class 5A preview
**1. Carl Albert - Dadrion Taylor ran for 1,365 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, but now he passes the torch to Javion Hunt, who holds offers from Arkansas, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and several more (only in-state offer is Tulsa).
2. Bishop Kelley - Plenty of notable names on this year’s Comets roster, but don’t surprised when Cori Lewis’ name is in high demand on the recruiting trails by midseason (if not before then).
3. Collinsville - Cardinals lose Grayson Boomer and Jake Tuttle from last year’s 5A semifinal team. But Collinsville always finds a way to replace departed talent and keep on winning.
4. Bishop McGuinness - Get ready for a lot of Dominic Richardson, a TCU commit, this season.
5. Edison - Running back Sevion Morrison burst onto the scene last season and rewrote several Edison records en route to 2,761 yards and 38 touchdowns.
6. Guthrie - The Bluejays always manage to have a stout defensive unit, and 2019 shouldn’t be any different. Should be Hector Goosby and Tervae Williams anchoring this season’s defensive efforts.
7. Duncan - A lot of talented players in 5A, and Jai’Vion Dangerfield could be the most unheralded of them all.
8. Tahlequah - He may be small (5 feet, 7 inches and 170 pounds), but running back Dae Dae Leathers has been nothing but productive when he’s on the field.
9. Ardmore - Last season’s 5A runner-up will have to move on to 2019 without several key contributors from 2018 -- Brayden Bryant, Sitani Lemeki, Tero Roberts, Cameron Petties, Trenzel Johnson and several more.
10. Claremore - Zebras with no lack of skills guys this season, including Dylan Kedzior, Quention Skinner and Jace Hightower.
**2018 state champion
- Racer Felter (Lawton Mac): Senior quarterback leads a senior-heavy squad that could make a run this year in 5A.
- Jai’vion Dangerfield (Duncan): A two-way playmaker who had 1,100 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns, with one on an interception and two on punt returns. “He’s the real deal.” -- Duncan head coach JT Cobble.
- Dominic Richardson (Bishop McGuinness): TCU commit embarks on a senior season as the Irish’s central figure in a potential title run.
- Reise Collier and David Peters (Carl Albert): Two tackling machines combined for 328 takedowns for the Titans in 2018.
- JD Coonfield and Tervae Williams (Guthrie): Combined for 197 tackles and five interceptions in 2018.
- Dylan Hampton (Piedmont): Threw for 1,338 yards and ran for 375 yards during his junior campaign.
- Blake Lair (Coweta): Hauled in an impressive 952 yards and 15 touchdowns on 47 catches as a junior in 2018.
- Chris Hilton (McAlester): Senior-to-be quarterback could thrive in first-year head coach Forrest Mazey’s offense after passing for 1,032 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 625 yards on the ground last year.
- Zach Middleton (Bishop Kelley): Oklahoma State commit is a standout as an offensive ball carrier, but shines on defense and leads a stout Comets’ defense.
- Makai Blades (Glenpool): Speedster could cause problems for opposing defenses if his offensive line creates proper running lanes.
- Jace Hightower (Claremore): Senior tailback has committed to Air Force after running for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
- Jayden Garner (Skiatook): Dynamic offensive weapon for the Bulldogs, who once got the same production out of Jayden’s brother, Shae.
- Dae Dae Leathers (Tahlequah):
Our best guess(es)
Michael Swisher: Carl Albert -- The Titans will have to tussle with the Bishops (Kelley and McGuinness) along the way, but until one of them - or someone else - gets the job done, I’m not betting against the westside power. Carl Albert is chasing history this season, which will add to the pressure, but will have enough to lift yet another gold ball and etch its name in the winning streak book.
Whitt Carter: Carl Albert -- Hold on to your butts - Carl Albert is loaded again. This will certainly come to an end sometime and they could finally lose this year, as hilarious as that sounds. But they are winning 5A again, regardless of whether the streak continues or not.
Ben Johnson: Carl Albert -- I like Bishop Kelley a lot, but can’t deviate from the norm. Boring, I know.
| Ben Johnson
As spring football begins, there’s now a head-coaching vacancy at Coweta. Early Monday morning, Tim Holt Jr. submitted his resignation to athletic director Tim Johnson.
Holt ends a three-year run at Coweta, where he went 19-15 with a district championship in 2017. He also guided the Tigers to the playoffs in three consecutive years.
“We appreciate the time Coach Holt put into the program,” Coweta athletic director Tim Johnson told the Wagoner County American-Tribune. “We wish Tim and his family nothing but the best.”
According to several sources, Holt is heading to Broken Arrow to become the Tigers’ passing game coordinator. For the Tigers, the reigning Class 6AI champions, Holt joins the offensive staff, which is led by offensive coordinator Jay Wilkinson.
Holt served as an assistant at Broken Arrow from 2010 to 2015.
Coweta is coming off a 5-7 season, one that ended with a loss to Ardmore in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
The next head coach will be Coweta’s third since 2013.
| Ben Johnson
The Oklahoma Coaches Association announced the 2019 All-State wrestling rosters on Tuesday morning.
Here are the rosters and some notes on the honorees:
113: David Boucher (Bartlesville)
120: Laif Jones (Bartlesville)
126: Ty Nohelty (McAlester)
132: Reece Witcraft (Broken Arrow) - Two-time state champion headed to Oklahoma State
138: Spencer Schickram (Ponca City) - Won the Class 6A 138 title this season
145: Gage Hight (Glenpool) - Finished as a three-time runner-up for the Warriors
152: Ja’len Hernandez (Union)
160: Scott Patton (Sand Springs) - Runner-up at 6A 152
170: Isaac Strain (Tahlequah)
182: Talon Borror (Coweta) - Three-time state champion headed to Oklahoma
195: Elijah Tomlin (Union)
220: Korbin McLaughlin (Skiatook) - The 5A 220 champion this season to help Skiatook split the 5A state title with Collinsville
HWT: Caleb Orr (Jenks) - Runner-up in 6A heavyweight this season
113: Dominic Derr (Westmoore)
120: Jayston Cato (Carl Albert) - Runner-up at 5A 120 this season
126: Mitchell Lance (Piedmont) - Third place finish at 5A 126 this season
132: Colt Newton (Choctaw) - Finished third at 6A 132 this season
138: Cameron Picklo (Mustang) - Finished third at 138 this season
145: Kobi Gomez (Altus) - State champion at 5A 138 this season
152: Hunter Jump (Duncan) - State champion at 5A 160 after winning a state title at Lawton Mac as a junior
160: Rene Martinez (Putnam City) - Runner-up at 6A 160 this season
170: Zane Coleman (Choctaw) - Arizona State signee became a four-time state champion this season
182: Christian Maldonado (Lawton Mac) - State champion at 5A 170 this season
195: Carson Savage (Deer Creek) - Runner-up at 6A 195 this season
220: Jake McCoy (Edmond North) - Runner-up at 6A 220 this season
HWT: Josh Heindselman (Piedmont) - Became a two-time state champion by winning the 5A heavyweight crown this season
113: Kaleb Harris (Sallisaw)
120: Luke Montgomery (Bristow) - Finishied third at 4A 120 this season
126: Thaddeus Long (McLain) - Became the Titans’ first state champion since 1976 with a title at 4A 126
132: Wesley Scott (Pawnee) - Runner-up at 3A 132 this season
138: Price Perrier (Pawhuska) - Runner-up at 3A 138 this season
145: Trystian Shireman (Wagoner) - Finished third at 4A 138 this season
152: Hadyn Redus (Perry) - State champion at 3A 152 this season
160: Jacob Ahrberg (Cushing) - State champion at 4A 160 this season
170: Cade Shropshire (Checotah) - Two-time state champion for the Wildcats with the 3A 160 chamionship this season
182: River Simon (Vian) - Became a two-time state champion by winning the 3A 182 title this season
195: Eriq Simpson (Cushing) - Runner-up at 4A 195 this season
220: Drake Barbee (Blackwell) - State champion at 3A 195 this season
HWT: Teaguen Wilson (Perry) - Runner-up at 3A heavyweight this season
113: Remington White (Walters) - Former state champion was the 3A runner-up at 113 this season
120: Jaxon Miller (Comanche)
126: Logan Farrell (Tuttle) - Runner-up at 4A 126 this season
132: Kolton Smith (Bridge Creek) - Became the Bobcats’ first state champion by winning the 3A 126 title this season
138: Kobey Kizarr (Marlow) - State champion at 3A 138 this season
145: Val Park (Heritage Hall) - Became a three-time state champion by winning 4A 138 title this season
152: Alec McDoulett (Little Axe) - Runner-up at 3A 152 this season
160: Tyler Lavey (Marlow) - Runner-up at 3A 160 this season
170: Ethon Hamrick (Comanche)
182: Denver Dahlenburg (Hinton)
195: Carson Berryhill (Tuttle) - Won a second straight state championship by winning 4A 195 title this season
220: Cameron Gregg (Pauls Valley)
HWT: Ruben Guiterrez (Clinton) - Finished third at 4A heavyweight this season
**Photo courtesy of Austin Bernard/Owrestle.com
Slow Pitch | | Corey Stolzenbach | McAlester News-Capital
McAlester welcomed Broken Bow for slow pitch on Thursday. The Lady Buffaloes (0-6) are still looking for their first win of the season, dropping a 14-6 loss to the Lady Savages. Freshman Emily Collins had two RBIs for the Lady Buffs in the game.
| Ben Johnson
Union Public Schools is beginning the 2020-2021 school year with some significant news. The ninth-largest school district in Oklahoma, per overall enrollment, is slated to have discussions about removing the Redskins nickname it has had for decades.
The school made the announcement Monday -- six days into the new academic year -- that it will begin discussions into a possible new nickname on July 13 at the next district's school board meeting.
The district has addressed the nickname before, deciding to keep the current nickname back in the 2002-2003 school year.
The news comes on the heels of the Washington franchise in the NFL opting to consider a name change, after advertisers started to pull their funding until a new nickname was agreed upon.
In Oklahoma, three other school districts use the same nickname: Kingston, McLoud and Rush Springs.
Stay tuned for more updates.
| Michael Swisher
The Cashion and Perry boys’ basketball teams entered the 2020 playoffs in slightly different positions.
Cashion had just endured “hell week” almost unscathed. The Wildcats were tested mightily during the stretch and entered the playoffs with a sterling record and ranked second in Class 2A.
They were a definite favorite to reach the state tournament.
As for Perry? The Maroons survived their own mid- to late-season swoon to hit the playoffs on a roll.
However, they finished the regular season out of the top-eight in Class 3A, making their road to state - on paper, anyway - more challenging.
The Maroons had no trouble with Chandler in a 30-point district win, then held off a stubborn Prague squad in the regional opener.
The first big roadblock was No. 6 Community Christian in the regional championship on the Royals’ home court. The Royals were one of two top-eight teams that figured to stand between Perry and a spot in the state tournament.
Down big at halftime, Perry came back to win 54-47.
For those who didn’t know, now they did. Perry was a team with which to be reckoned.
Hight: We beat them at their place after being down 11 at halftime. I think that win gave us a lot of confidence.
Cashion wasn’t overly-inspired in its 14-point district win against Rush Springs, a team that pulled off the upset the night before.
That kept the Wildcats in the winner’s bracket for the regional opener.
For most teams sitting at No. 2 in the rankings, winning that Thursday game of a regional is an expectation more than an accomplishment.
That wasn’t necessarily the case in Cashion. Not since the 1996-97 season had the Wildcats advanced past the regional and into the area tournament.
That’s right. Twenty-three years.
A win in the Thursday winner’s bracket game would guarantee a spot in the area tournament and break that long streak. So, for Cashion, there was added pressure against Hobart.
And perhaps that pressure is why Cashion struggled early as Hobart led throughout the first quarter. However, the final three quarters belonged to Cashion in a 58-29 victory.
Hardaway: I think relief is a perfect word. I think for the coaches, more than the players, it was a big relief. I don't think the kids ever really thought about it more as just another team in front of them, but we as coaches knew how important that game was for us and our program to finally end the 20-plus year hex of the boys not making it to area. We had lost the previous three years on Thursday night, each time to really good teams: Carnegie, Regent Prep and Wewoka. We battled them tooth and nail, but just weren't good enough, and then had a really tough opponent waiting for us the next day, so to win that game was really big and really shouldn't be forgotten or taken for granted.
The Wildcats were headed to area. However, the regional championship game against No. 19 Mangum would decide if they were going into the area title game or into the consolation bracket. Mangum proved more than a formidable foe as it never backed down from Cashion and even led in the waning moments of the game. Somehow - like those brutal battles against Hennessey and Dale - Cashion emerged with a 63-61 victory.
Hardaway: They’re such a tough matchup for us, but, somehow, we just found a way to win.
The “upset” victory over Community Christian put Perry into the area championship game - and one win from state - for the second straight year. Adding to the deja vu was the fact the Maroons would be playing Millwood, the very team that blew them out in last year’s area championship.
This year, Millwood entered the game ranked No. 1.
Hight: Losing to Millwood the year before, I think, benefited us more than them. They remember beating us by 20; my guys also remembered that, but I think we felt like we could have played better and this time we didn’t look intimidated or scared of the moment. I felt really confident going into the game, probably more than I ever have in a big game. It wasn’t because I knew we would win, but just the fact I felt like we were playing to our capabilities and had a good week of preparation.
Cashion, meanwhile, was literally in uncharted territory considering the area tournament drought. The Wildcats were set to face No. 6 Minco for the area title at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center at SWOSU. Minco had reached the state semifinals the year before.
Much like the “hell week” and Mangum games, this was a battle. This one, however, didn’t see Cashion make the plays or catch the breaks near the end. Minco emerged 56-51 to win the area championship and advance to state.
Hardaway: We lost to a team almost our equals, one with similar personnel makeup, approach, etc, and they had just played a little better than us and they deserved to win. Our free throw struggles finally may have cost us and I was issued a technical foul with 2:11 left in the quarter and our team down four points while we were playing defense. Rightly or wrongly, a coach can’t get a technical foul at that point of the ballgame and I did. As I walked across the floor towards our locker room, I was afraid that maybe my ‘T’ might have cost us a chance to win the game, but as I made the turn down the hallway, my mind quickly turned to how to handle this locker room and our guys.
Hardaway had never been in this position as a coach: Lose the area championship but still have a shot to win Saturday and advance to state.
Hardaway: I have always thought about how I would and always sought advice from other coaches on how they handled the same situation. Before I entered the locker room, I had a quick meeting with my two assistant coaches to discuss the next 20-30 minutes and make sure the three of us were on the same page before talking to the team. It was going to go like this: Go in the locker room, and deal with Minco game, losing, why, how, etc. Try to get through whatever anger, sadness, frustration there was with that and then try to put it to bed as fast as possible. Once we were done, I told the team, ‘OK, we are done talking about Minco. You can be upset about it the rest of the evening and it should upset you, but by tomorrow morning, when you wake up, that’s out of your system. From that point, it has to be for us to win tomorrow and make the state tournament.
There were two surprises for Cashion: One was the fact the Wildcats were going to be playing Saturday. They expected to win Friday. The other was the opponent in the area consolation championship. Unranked Calera had just pulled off big upsets of Caddo and Mangum.
Hardaway: They were the typical tournament underdog that plays well when it matters most and was going to be bringing all the momentum in the world with them Saturday night.
While playing Calera was a surprise, what Calera did on the court wasn’t going to be one. Hardaway made sure one of his assistants scouted all the area teams and even had a former assistant taking some notes throughout the three previous area boys’ games. After the Minco discussion in the locker room, coaches provided a quick briefing on Calera. Still, Hardaway hadn’t yet seen Saturday’s opponent. After the grueling late-night game and the 90-minute bus ride home, he got to work.
Hardaway: At about 4 a.m., after watching a couple of games, I was confident we were the better team, but weird things can happen on Saturday night of area and that’s always a little scary. But I did come across the idea of running an old zone defense that we had not run at Cashion in years. Once I felt like we could defend them, I was able to go to bed.
There was another reassuring feeling for Hardaway.
Hardaway: I had a sense with our guys, that no matter what, they were not going to lose twice in the area tournament. It didn’t matter who we played.
On Saturday afternoon, the team made some final preparations before leaving once again for Weatherford.
Hardaway: We were also closely following Garber’s Class A state championship game that was being played that afternoon. They are a program that their coaches and players are good friends of ours. We beat them in their tournament earlier in the season, but we were openly rooting for them as they won their state championship game (against Arapaho-Butler) in double-OT. As we watched them, we were probably all subconsciously thinking that could be us next week. If they could do it, so could we!
But first, Calera.
Hardaway: I could tell our guys were calm and confident and I knew on the way to SWOSU we were going to win, but you still have to play the game.
The Wildcats did just that - and it was never really a game. The celebration was on early as Cashion won 61-26.
Hardaway: We played great defense throughout. We weren’t great offensively for two quarters. We couldn’t catch or make a layup for stretches for whatever reason. We won by a big margin, which was both great and odd because you just always think an area finals game would be a tight one. We celebrated on the floor and in the locker room. It was a lot of fun watching our players enjoy that experience.
One of Hardaway’s grandfathers - Fabian Cambron - frequently makes the trek to Oklahoma from Kentucky to catch his favorite coach’s big games. He was one of several family members on hand for Hardaway’s big moment.
Hardaway: I really enjoyed having my family there! Hugs and congrats from my wife and kids, my parents and my grandfather were very special. I loved watching our players celebrate with their teammates, parents, family and friends.
Nobody wanted the celebration to end. SWOSU essentially made it.
Hardaway: We were there so long, they basically shut the lights out on us, but oh well. We were going to state. It was the first time that Cashion boys had gone to state since 1996.
Perry’s area experience was every bit as meaningful, but not nearly as drawn out. Standing immediately in the Maroons’ way was top-ranked Millwood, the team that essentially embarrassed them in exactly the same spot the year before. Perry didn’t recover and lost the Saturday game as well and missed out on a trip to state.
This year, however, the Maroons were more than read. They never trailed and maintained a slim lead the entire first half.
Hight: I felt like the longer the game went along, the more the more our guys realized: “Hey, we can win this.”
The lead grew to double digits in the second half. The Maroons kept their lead despite Drake having to sit for about a five-minute stretch. Ultimately, Millwood had to start fouling. Goldberry went 11 of 13 from the line and finished with 22 points. Drake went for 23 points and 18 boards.
Hight: I don’t think I really felt like “oh man, we have this” until about 15 seconds were left and we went up six points.
Perry emerged victorious, 69-61, and was headed to the state tournament for the first time since 19-FOREVER!
Hight: It was almost hard to believe. When I came to Perry, that was one of my biggest goals. It took 11 years, so I know how hard it is to get to that point...to even give yourself a chance.
A Perry alumnus, Hight was well-versed on the difficulty of even being in a position to go to the state tournament.
Hight: My second year of coaching in 2007-08, I was one win away at Mulhall-Orlando and then I didn’t get that opportunity again until last year. So over the years, I have appreciated how hard it is to even get to area, much less the state tournament.
The coach knew it wasn’t just about him.
Hight: This group of kids and seniors deserved it. We are not the most athletic or physically dominant team. We have to do all the little things right and these guys did that for me and each other.
Perry fans are accustomed to visiting State Fair Arena during the latter part of winter. However, it’s always been to cheer on the wrestling team. Now there was another reason to go.
Hight: Being a Perry graduate, our town, community and alumni really have supported Perry basketball. We had great support at games and people were excited. It made me proud to do something for those people.
And then there’s the support system at home.
Hight: My family. My wife was proud of us and it was just great to see her smile after the game because she knows how bad I wanted to get to the state tournament. And my kids, they have grown up on a school bus, sitting on the bench since they could walk, and spending hours and hours just watching practices. So having my son on the team and being able to see him on the floor and being able to contribute in the biggest moment of my career was awesome.
All of that culminated in the moments after the final buzzer at Western Heights High School.
Hight: The best part of the whole thing was getting announced as area champions, taking what would be our last team picture and the celebration in the locker room. Then, in the lobby of Western Heights gym, there were hundreds of family members and fans there to congratulate the team and take pictures, etc. It was an awesome feeling, I bet I received over 200 texts that night. I didn’t go to bed until 4 a.m. because I didn’t want the night to end.
| Michael Swisher
It’s official now.
The 2020 All-State football game will take place after an agreement was signed Wednesday between the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association and Oklahoma Baptist University.
OBU’s Crain Family Stadium in Shawnee will be the host site when All-State selections from East take on those from the West at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25.