By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s been a date the Stillwater High School girls basketball team has circled ever since losing to Tulsa Edison 61-49 in the Bixby Tournament.
And while Stillwater coach Carl Treat hesitated to call the possible Friday matchup with Edison as a revenge game, that’s exactly what’s on the Lady Pioneers’ mind as they begin the Shawnee Invitational against El Reno at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Not only do the Lady Pioneers (9-6) want to atone for an early season loss — they’re out to prove to the entire state that they are a forced to be reckoned with.
“It would mean a lot,” Treat said. “But beating El Reno is our top priority. If we’re going to play Edison, I want it to be in the semifinals of the tournament. ... Obviously when we saw the bracket, I was excited and the kids were excited about getting a chance to play Tulsa Edison again.”
Getting into the semifinals against Edison won’t be an easy task, however. Like Stillwater, El Reno relies heavily on its guard play and ability to put up points.
“They’re a tough matchup for us,” Treat said. “They’re a heavy guard-oriented team that shoots the 3 well. They can force you to turn the ball over on defense, so they’re going to present us with a challenge.”
Turnovers — or the lack there of — were the only saving grace in Stillwater’s win over Ponca City Tuesday. The Lady Pioneers will need to continue to take care of the ball if they want to make some noise in Shawnee this weekend.
“We did a really good job of taking care of the ball (against Ponca City),” Treat said. “We had one turnover in the first half and I felt like we played really well, we just missed a lot of shots that normally fall. Sometimes you have that, where you play well and the shots don’t fall but hopefully we’ll be able to make those shots come Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”
Treat said whether or not Stillwater takes care of the ball will be a big factor on if the Lady Pioneers can put together a three-game run to bring home the title.
“We actually talked about it (Wednesday),” Treat said. “When we take care of the ball, good things happen. If we had turned it over against Ponca City, we wouldn’t have been down just one. It would have been more. ... Our half-court defense has been pretty good throughout the year, but a lot of times our offense combined with the turnovers has been the reason that we’ve struggled.”
Even if the Lady Pioneers can’t bring a trophy back from a tournament filled with top 10 teams from Class 5A — including No. 1 Shawnee — the experience should pay off for the Stillwater as they prepare for the playoffs.
“It’s just good competition,” Treat said. “This time of the year, you want to face good competition. It gives us a chance to step out and see somebody that we know we won’t see in the playoffs. It’s just good time to see where we’re at.”