Trips like this don’t come along very often — at least not for Oklahoma State.

Head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna are the only two people on the Cowgirl roster who have traveled to Hawaii. The rest of the team will soon know the experience.

The Cowgirls will participate in the Hawaii Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Their opening game will be against Columbia at 9 p.m. Friday.

“I can’t say I didn’t jump up and down and scream a little bit when I found out (about the trip to the Aloha State),” said OSU sophomore Taylor Hardeman. “I’m really excited. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii?”

O-State’s itinerary includes attending a luau and perhaps even a visit to Pearl Harbor.

“This may be a chance of a lifetime for most of these girls,” Budke said. “We want them to enjoy themselves and experience some of the Hawaiian culture.”

Friday will mark the first meeting between Columbia and OSU. The Lions (3-7), coming off a 66-46 win against Wagner on Dec. 14, are led by Megan Griffith — who averages 12 points per game. Chelsea Frazier is the club’s top rebounder with 6.7 boards per contest.

The Cowgirls will face either San Francisco or Hawaii on Saturday depending on the outcome of Friday’s contest. USF (4-8) is coming off a 67-64 victory against Florida State last week and has a 1-5 record away from home. O-State has never faced the Dons on the hardwood.

The host Rainbow Wahine (5-5) has already squared off with a pair of Big 12 teams this season — falling to No. 3 Oklahoma on Nov. 18 and defeating Texas Tech on Nov. 24.

Despite the tropical atmosphere, Budke said he doesn’t consider the Hawaii trip to be a distraction to his squad.

“I think one of the things my teams have always done is separate business from pleasure,” Budke added. “We want to have fun, but we also want to get two wins. Big 12 play is right around the corner and we have to continue to get ready for it.”

Budke said making the trip to the Aloha State will be helpful for OSU as far as recruiting and becoming more successful nationally.

“It’s part of what we have to do to stay on the same level as some of the other teams in the Big 12,” Budke added. “If you go down the list of Big 12 teams, you’ll really see that everybody in the conference in the last two years has gone someplace like Hawaii, the Bahamas or Europe.

“If we’re going to compete at the national level, this is just part of it. Believe me, if I could play all 30 games within 30 miles of Stillwater, I would rather do that.”

This weekend will mark the first time O-State (10-1) has competed in the Aloha State since 2001 — when it dropped a 52-51 decision to Hawaii in the WNIT. The Cowgirls have not qualified for the national postseason since then.

“We’re lucky to be a part of this,” said Cowgirl freshman Ally Clardy. “I may never get to go back (to Hawaii) again, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s a good time for us to gel as a team and get a couple of wins on the road before we go beat (Texas) Tech.”

Back in action

Clardy has been sidelined for the last five weeks with a stress fracture, but was practicing with the team on Tuesday.

“It’s a lot better,” the Argyle, Texas, native said. “My leg is 100 percent, but I’m still a little out of shape. I’m getting there though ... I’m just ready to help the team. It was the hardest thing having to sit out and watch.”

Budke added, “I’m not going to say (Clardy) is 100 percent, but I thought she moved pretty well (Tuesday) and it’s good to have her back. We need her.”

Local ties

Former Stillwater High player Tracey Cole — who was a member of the Lady Pioneer clubs that advanced to the Class 6A State Tournament in 2004 and 2005 — has played in all 10 games as a freshman at Columbia and has made three starting appearances.

Cole is averaging 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds per game with the Lions.

Trending Video

Recommended for you