Oklahoma City, OK 73122
Record: 0-0 | Unranked
| Ben Johnson
OKLAHOMA CITY — Latarryus Smith got hot, and he quickly remembered instructions from Star Spencer coach Lance Cudjoe.
“My coach always tells me, ‘if they don’t have a hand in your face, shoot the ball,’” Smith said. “So I kept shooting the ball.”
Just what Class 3A No. 3 Star Spencer needed.
The senior guard scored 10 points in overtime while leading the Bobcats to a 64-55 triumph over top-ranked Kingston on Saturday at State Fair Arena. The victory for Star Spencer landed the Bobcats their ninth state championship, a year after losing to Douglass in the finals.
“It feels really good,” said Smith, who connected on 7 of 12 field goals, 5 of 8 3-point attempts and 9 of 11 foul shots. “It feels a lot better than last year.”
Smith’s heroics in extra time almost weren’t necessary, but Jordan Owen’s jumper at the end of regulation was off, setting the stage for Smith to become Kingston’s worst nightmare.
“The most dynamic guard in 4A and below — maybe in the state of Oklahoma,” Cudjoe said. “I had to teach him about sharing the ball, but he can get a shot anytime he wants.”
Smith finished with 28 points and hauled in five rebounds.
For Kingston (26-3), Jacob Germany had a team-high 20 points in the Redskins’ quest to win the school’s first basketball title. Germany finished 8 of 9 from the field, but he knocked down only 4 of his 11 free throw attempts.
RJ Weeks was Kingston’s only other player to score in double figures with 13 points.
The championship for Star Spencer, who also had 12 points from Brandon Zeno, claimed its first crown since 2009 when it took down Bishop McGuinness for the 4A title.
“Last year, we felt like we should have won it,” Cudjoe said. “This year with God’s grace, we did.”
No. 3 Star Spencer 64, No. 1 Kingston 55
Star Spencer (22-7): Latarryus Smith 28, Brandon Zeno 12, Jayden Winder 7, Denis Mitchell 4, Malik Gilliam 4, Jordan Owens 3, Brian Swain 2, Corey Robinson 2, Deandre Parker 2.
Kingston (26-3): Jacob Germany 20, RJ Weeks 13, Jacob Whipkey 9, Conner Brister 8, Stoney Lowe 5.
| Michael Swisher
There’s not many places that can lure Will Jones away from Garber.
Dale just happened to be one of them.
Jones was approved earlier this month to take over superintendent duties for Dale Public Schools.
He’ll take over the role July 1 when the retirement of current Superintendent Ky Wilkins becomes official.
It will end a seven-year run at Garber, the last six as the school district’s superintendent.
“My most fulfilling years in public education have been at Garber,” Jones said. “It was a very difficult decision to leave.”
However, the pull from Dale was too much to resist.
“There aren’t too many places that would even allow me to consider leaving a great school like Garber,” Jones said. “But Dale is one of those places.”
“It’s a place that expects excellence in academics as well as extra-curricular activities,” he said.
Dale owns 40 state titles in athletics.
The baseball and softball teams have nearly annual reservations at their respective state tournaments. Baseball accounts for 21 state championships and softball another 11.
Girls basketball owns seven gold balls and has reached the state tournament every year of Eric Smith’s tenure.
The boys basketball program didn’t own a state championship…until about two weeks ago.
The Pirates, with nary a senior starter, claimed the 2A title.
That’s the kind of programs Jones will be inheriting.
He feels he’ll be turning over Garber’s reins in solid shape as well.
Among his proudest achievements was helping pass one transportation and one building bond issue in 2018. Both got 84 percent voter approval.
The district now has two devices for every student…one for school and one for home.
“We’ve made some tremendous gains in technology,” he said.
Jones also did what many small-school superintendents have had to do: Fill several roles.
“I leave here proud knowing that I was willing to do whatever I needed to help the district,” he said.
That included dusting off his coach’s whistle and taking over the boys basketball program prior to the 2017-18 season.
“I really thought my coaching career was over after 2009,” Jones said. “There was someone above pulling the strings on that.”
Under Jones, the Garber boys basketball team reached state three times in four seasons.
It peaked with a Class A state title in 2020 and a runner-up finish in 2021.
He stepped down after that season and hired Fletcher Reed away from Snyder to take his place.
Reed coached Garber to another runner-up finish in 2022.
The Garber girls basketball team, under longtime coach Jamie Davis, qualified for state for a third consecutive season.
The football team has reached the playoffs each of the last three years and all but once during Jones’ tenure there.
Jones’ oldest daughter, Karsen, graduated from Garber last year and is now a freshman at OSU.
His youngest daughter, Khloe, will be an eighth grader next year.
“For her, both academically and in extra-curricular activities, this is also a great fit,” he said of Dale. He also said the location is ideal in a number of other ways, notably the proximity to his mother, who lives in Edmond.
“A lot of things just came together,” Jones said, “to let us know this was the right move to make.”