By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Glencoe Panthers were on top of the basketball world last season — winning 31 games and their first state championship since 2006. With most of the team returning, the Panthers are eyeing a repeat.
“We’re really excited to come in with the goal of defending a state championship,” coach John Lazenby said. “I told the guys if we work hard and remain as hungry as we were last year we should have a good chance of winning it again.”
Among the returners is Class A state tournament MVP Ty Lazenby and All-State tournament team member Jake Lazenby. Coach Lazenby said he expects them to be the leaders this year.
“With Ty being a junior and the experience he gained last year and Jake in his senior year, shot well in the preseason and should be a big part of what we do,” Lazenby said. “Hunter Hall is one of our bigger players, we should be really good this year.”
The Panthers will have to replace starting point guard Kagen Castlebury, Taylor Cavett and Jake Corbin. Coach Lazenby said he thinks he has some new players to fill those roles.
“We got a move-in from Woodland, J.K. Hadlock, he’s a good baseball player and a great basketball player,” Lazenby said. “He’s a great shooter and I think he will contribute a lot. Andrew Kuhn is going to be our post, he’s a little undersized but is so strong. Sean Smith reminds me a lot of Cavett, being able to come off the bench and give us a spark on defense and put him on a good guard. I feel like we are a little better than last year.”
Lazenby said for his team to return to the “Big House,” they can’t take anything for granted.
“We can’t feel like we are on entitled to it,” Lazenby said. “I told the guys, that teams are going to come at us harder and that we have a huge bullseye on our backs. We just have to stay focused.”
The Panthers open their season Tuesday at Paden.
The last two seasons, a Class 2A state tournament berth has been in the reach of the Yale Bulldogs, this season they hope to reach the promise land.
“We return all five of our starters and our first two off the bench,” coach Rocky Kennedy said. “We are pretty good experience-wise and should have a good season.”
Kennedy said his team has its goals set pretty high and added that the key to get to state is consistency.
“We have to play better on defense,” Kennedy said. “On both sides of the ball, we have to be more consistent.”
The Bulldogs open the season at Liberty on Nov. 22.
The Ripley Warriors are hoping to turn last season’s early exit from playoffs into a deeper playoff run this year.
“We are not going to let that happen this year,” coach Doug Scott said. “Our long-range goal is to do better in the playoffs. That’s what has given this program a name is long playoff runs.”
The Warriors were eliminated in district last season and return most of the players from that team. Scott said his guys have worked hard in practice and thinks he has a great senior class.
“Our seniors are solid with Garret Gosney, Cory Sadler and Noah Teel,” Scott said. “We got some more depth than we had last season.”
The Warriors open the season Nov. 15 against Oilton.
Coach David Day hopes the Tigers buy into his system as he starts his first season at Cushing.
“I think I’ve proven myself at Prague,” Day said. “We’ve been to the area tournament seven times. If the players can buy in, we should have a pretty good season.”
One of the challenges early for Day is getting players to learn his system. That could take time, especially with seven of his 13 players playing on the football team.
“All of them will play valuable minutes,” Day said. “The six that are in the gym are coming along. They have great attitudes and are putting forth great effort.”
The Tigers’ opener is also dependent on the success of the football team. Tenatively it’s Nov. 22 against Blackwell. If the Tigers advance in the state playoffs, that game will be moved to Dec. 10 and Cushing will open with the Lake Keystone Classic on Dec. 2 or against Mannford on Dec. 13.
The Mulhall-Orlando Panthers are hoping to get one more win this season to advance to state. Last year, the Panthers were defeated in the area consolation championship.
The Panthers open the season Friday with Oilton at home.
After making the area round last season, the Agra Bearcats hope to advance further this season. The Bearcats open the season Nov. 22 at Mulhall-Orlando.
The Carney Bulldogs are also looking to build on last season’s playoff run under coach Jack Brewster.
Coach Bob Weckstein hopes that a little more experience will pay off for the Frontier Mustangs.
“We are improving but aren’t very tall,” Weckstein said. “We have a very tough schedule that doesn’t give us many breaks. We have to play Glencoe and Newkirk twice. We go against Pawnee. Hopefully we can make a run at the end.”