By BEN JOHNSON
Basketball has worked out quite well in Rick Ott’s storied career. But if that hadn’t of worked out, he could have been a quality salesman.
After all, he gave quite the sales pitch to land some playoff games at Hulbert this year.
When the Class 2A playoffs start later this month, Hulbert will host a district tournament at Rider Fieldhouse.
“You might have to look it up, but I think it’s been at least seven years since we’ve hosted a district,” said Ott, whose club will host Commerce and Porter in the Distrct 6 tournament. “I brought that to some higher up’s attention, and I said this would be a good year for us to host a district.”
Before playing at Sallisaw Central on Thursday, both Hulbert clubs sported 11-6 records. And both Hulbert teams will likely garner No. 1 seeds come district time.
“Anything can happen, and I think we got a good, good draw,” said Ott, who is coaching both Hulbert teams after Darron McCord resigned his coaching duties on the boys side.
All Ott will be looking for is a district crown, which would set both Hulbert clubs up for promising playoff runs.
“Coming out of the district on top is a biggie,” Ott said, “because you put yourself in a situation where you need to win one more to make it to the area.”
Beyond district play, Hulbert will venture to Kiefer High School for regional-tournament play. In Hulbert’s regional field is Hominy, Tonkawa, Caney Valley, Oklahoma Union, Kiefer, Quapaw, Pawnee, Barnsdall and Foyil.
“We had Northeast in the first round of regionals last year,” Ott said, “and this year Millwood is on the other side of the area.”
He is correct.
Class 2A No. 1 Millwood — in both boys and girls basketball — is in Area II with Hulbert. The Area II tournament will be hosted at Ed Dubie Fieldhouse in Sand Springs.
In Class 3A, Sequoyah and Keys found out their playoff assignments, and the postseason will begin against one another. The two Cherokee County rivals will square off in District 5 play at Sequoyah’s The Place Where They Play.
“We know we’ll get Keys’ best shot,” said Sequoyah boys coach Jay Herrin, whose club has coasted to two wins over Keys this season. “We expect them to play us tough.”
At the regional level, Sequoyah and Keys will play at Heavener High School in the first round and at Wilburton in the regional rounds beyond that. In the regional with Sequoyah and Keys will be Sulphur, Holdenville, Antlers, Wilburton, Heavener and Idabel.
“We would have liked at least a regional sub-site,” Herrin said. “But the breakdown of the teams, with the division of all the teams, it’s pretty fair.”
The area tournament will feature Verdigris, which is ranked in the top five for both boys and girls. The area championship will be up for grabs at Checotah High School.