Unless another blizzard is on the horizon, Stillwater High will kick off the 2006-07 basketball season tonight.

Class 6A’s 12th-ranked Lady Pioneers will take on No. 8 Tulsa Union at SHS Fieldhouse as part of the Frontier Conference East/West Challenge. SHS was originally scheduled to open the season against No. 2 Sapulpa last Friday, but inclement weather postponed the game.

“I kind of wish we had a game under our belt already, but either way, our entire schedule before Christmas break is extremely tough,” said SHS coach Rhonda Fields. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘Well, at least you don’t have to open with Sapulpa.’ But we still have to open with Tulsa Union.”

The Lady Redskins went 20-7 last season and advanced to the 6A state quarterfinals. This year, Union has no returning starters but is expected to receive a boost from junior Lindsay Palmer, who transferred from Tulsa Memorial. She averaged 20.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 2005-06.

“(The Union game) will be good as far as seeing what we’ve done well preparing for and what we still need to work on,” said SHS senior Becca Jungers. “This will be a good test for us. It’s exciting ... we’ve been ready to go since our first scrimmage.”

Junior Katie Norris added, “We’ve been getting some extra practices in the last few days and it’s really paying off. Now we can finally put it all out there on the court.”

Tonight will be the first of three games before the break that will have the Lady Pioneers matching up against ranked competition. SHS will visit No. 11 Edmond Santa Fe on Dec. 19, and will travel to No. 3 Jenks a few days later.

“We’re going to play every game as it comes and do the best we can during the (regular) season to make the decisions that are going to make us be better come playoff time,” Fields said.

The Lady Pioneers will take the floor at 6:30 p.m.

Ready to go

The Pioneers are also squaring off with a Top 10 opponent to open the season. SHS will take on No. 5 Broken Arrow at 8 p.m.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re No. 10 or No. 50,” said SHS senior Broc Morris. “I’m not really worried about it. I think if we play hard and play together, we can beat anybody. We’re looking forward to this.”

The Tigers finished 16-9 last season with a trip to the 6A Area Tournament. They have four starters returning this year, including seniors Brody Clark and Sahlih Butts — who averaged 13.3 points and 9.2 points per game, respectively, in 2005-06.

“I’m just glad we’re getting to play,” said SHS coach Michael Davis. “It’s an opportunity to play against somebody else ... we’ve been practicing and scrimmaging for so long, now we get to play one that counts.”

The Pioneers were also scheduled to face Sapulpa last Friday, but Morris said the extra few days have been beneficial.

“They’ve really helped us get a little more mentally prepared and get a better grasp on our game plan,” the 6-foot-4 senior said.

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