By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s a sight that seems all too familiar for the Stillwater High School girls basketball team — win or go home.
Perhaps that’s why Stillwater coach Carl Treat seemed a little more at ease than usual when asked about his concerns heading into the regional semifinal game against Tulsa Union Thursday in Bixby.
“Our expectations are to win,” Treat said. “We have a plan in place to win the game and advance to the regional championship on Saturday. ... The biggest thing is we have to go out, play hard and do what we’re supposed to do, and the game and score will take care of itself.”
It isn’t that Treat is cocky about his team — although he has plenty of reason to be after the Lady Pioneers (13-9) took two games from Lawton Eisenhower and Lawton High last weekend.
Treat’s confidence comes from the expectation that has been a foundation of Stillwater’s basketball program ever since he became the coach. And with three seniors and several juniors who have been through these trials before, it’s easy to see why the Lady Pioneers bring an air of confidence into Thursday’s game.
“It’s great because our senior class is used to having success in the playoffs,” Treat said. “As sophomore they won the first round game and juniors they won the first round game, so they’re used to it. There comes to be a level of expectations in doing that. They’re used to it. They understand what’s at stake, but they also understand what it takes to be successful.”
It hasn’t been easy for Stillwater to find success this season. The Lady Pioneers have been what seems to be an endless rollercoaster since mid-January. Even after all their struggles, they appear to be peaking at the right time after a successful trip to Lawton.
“Lawton was a great trip for us,” Treat said. “We shot the ball extremely well and our defensive schemes were able to make some adjustments and do some things that allowed just to be successful. I was really proud of the way we played at both ends of the floor. To shoot like we did in both games, it was a nice change because it got us used to making our shots.”
That combination of knocking down shots and high expectations has instilled some confidence in the Lady Pioneers during practice this week.
“It’s been great,” Treat said. “Any time your shots are falling, the defense picks up a little bit with confidence. You start to have a little more confidence as a team and what you’re trying to do.”
It would be easy for Stillwater to look past Tulsa Union toward Saturday’s regional championship based on its confidence and high expectations. But in the win-or-go-home format in the first round of regionals, Treat said his team has been focused solely on the Lady Redskins.
“The biggest focus has been on Tulsa Union and getting prepared for that game,” Treat said. “As a coaching staff, we have to take care of all the other stuff. We’ve just been working with what we have to do to take care of Tulsa Union and then Friday at practice we’ll adjust what we need to address for Saturday’s game.”