COYLE, Okla. — Editor's note: It was a wild 2013 in Oklahoma State, Stillwater and area sports. So wild and exciting that even some of the biggest moments fell to the chopping room floor when voted on by the members of The Stillwater NewsPress. In the days leading up to the New Year, the NewsPress sports department will count down the top 10 stories of 2013 and while many will be of no surprise, there are some such as Nataljia Piliuisina rallying to win the 1,500-meter NCAA national championship — the second women's individual outdoor NCAA title in school history — or the Cowboy baseball program returning to the postseason under first-year coach Josh Holliday that didn't even make the cut.
The 2012-2013 season ended being historic for the Coyle Bluejackets boys basketball team as they finished as the second-best team in Class B with a 25-5 record.
The Bluejackets went 7-3 in the first half of the season, winning five of their last seven games before Christmas break. Coyle’s season picked up momentum after the break as they went 13-1 to close out the regular season.
Adding to the history of last season was the Bluejackets playing their last season in their old gymnasium, which was built in 1939, making it one of the oldest in Oklahoma. Coyle closed out the gym with a victory over Mulhall-Orlando.
Coach Josh Sumrall reached a milestone as he picked up his 200th win at Coyle in a 75-53 victory over Oklahoma Christian School JV during the County Line Tournament. Last season was Sumrall’s 11th at Coyle.
Coyle advanced in the district championship with a 79-21 victory over Claremore Christian. In regionals, the Bluejackets defeated Cave Springs and Asher, each by more than 30 points, to advance to the area championship. The Bluejackets didn’t have any problems winning in the area championship as they trounced Burlington 75-36.
“The entire playoffs we’ve been clicking on all cylinders,” Sumrall said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons to choose from. Hopefully, we can continue to play at a high level.
The Bluejackets drew the defending Class B state champion Forgan in the state quarterfinals on Feb. 28. Forgan took a 13-12 lead after the first quarter but Coyle outscored Forgan 16-9 to take a 28-22 halftime lead. The Bluejackets never surrendered the lead as they outscored the defending champions 37-35 to pull out a 65-57 victory. Eric Harris led the team in scoring with 21 points and Tony Aska scored 20 points while knocking down several key free throws to seal the win.
“That was a real big win for us,” Sumrall said. “They were a solid team who were only beat twice. ... It was a tough draw but our kids responded well in that atmosphere and our big players really stepped up.”
Coyle got off to a shaky start in the state semifinals against Red Oak on March 1, trailing 20-7 in the first quarter and 23-15 at the end of the quarter. Harris came off the bench and changed the course of the game. He scored 11 points in the second quarter to help the Bluejackets cut the deficit to two at halftime.
In the second half, Harris made a couple key baskets to help Coyle take a 50-44 lead, which it would take to a 69-62 victory and advance to the championship.
“I don’t mind being a bench player,” Harris said. “I told coach I will be his spark off the bench. That’s what I’ve been doing all season, giving the team a lift.”
Coyle jumped out to an early lead in the state championship game against Arnett on March 2. The Bluejackets pulled out to a 27-6 lead in the second quarter to hold a 37-23 halftime lead. Unfortunately that’s when things changed. Arnett’s Tyler Tune took over the game and scored 31 points in the second half and led Arnett to a 71-60 victory. Sumrall said the loss was tough but added his team accomplished a lot.
“It hurts because we put a lot of work into it,” Sumrall said. “I’m proud for their effort this year.”
Two of Coyle’s seniors went on to play college basketball as Harris signed with Langston University and Aska signed with Redlands Community College.