Tahlequah Daily Press

February 19, 2013

Class 4A basketball playoff preview

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— Class 4A boys

Area I (Yukon)

• The favorite: Douglass. All Stephen Clark has known at Douglass has been state championships. The Trojans' senior guard has led Douglass to the state crown the past three seasons, and the Trojans are certainly the favorites as the playoffs get going. Toss in Deondre Clark and DeAngelo Smith and Douglass (20-3) is just as potent as ever this year.

• Other contenders: Bethany, McLain, Heritage Hall, John Marshall. An argument could be made for any of these clubs to make the state tournament. Bishop Louie, Keondre Jones and Nick Foster form a dynamic trio for McLain, while Josh Lout leads a veteran-laden lineup at Bethany. Heritage Hall's Kelton Hall, Tanner Tepe and Peter LeForce should make the Chargers a tough out, too. And of the teams in this mix, John Marshall is the one that made the state tournament last year.

• Potential games to watch

- Douglass vs. John Marshall (regional final in Weatherford); Heritage Hall vs. Bethany (regional semifinals at Heritage Hall); McLain vs. Heritage Hall-Bethany winner (regional finals at Bethany); any area tournament game.

• State bound: Douglass (area champ), Bethany (area runner-up).



Area II (Chickasha)

• The favorite: Anadarko. It's basically a toss-up between Anadarko and Tecumseh. However, Anadarko made the state tournament last season — made the 4A title game, in fact — and that experience has to be worth something. Anadarko played a pretty soft schedule this year, but the Warriors the team to beat in the area.

• Other contenders: Tecumseh, Cache, Blanchard, Harrah, Madill. Of any team in this group, Cache could be the most wild of wild cards. All the teams have solid wins, and even unranked Madill could be a factor in a pretty even area field.

• Potential games to watch

- Cache vs. Harrah (regional semifinals at Newcastle); Tecumseh vs. Cache-Harrah winner (regional finals at Newcastle); Anadarko vs. Blanchard (regional finals at Purcell); Anadarko vs. Region I champion (area finals at Chickasha).

• State bound: Anadarko (area champ); Harrah (area runner-up).



Area III (Skiatook)

• The favorite: Victory Christian. The Conquerors moved up to 4A this season, but that's not likely to keep them from the state tournament. Victory Christian's only two losses this season have come against NOAH (mainly Alonzo Trier) and 6A No. 6 Owasso.

• Other contenders: Central, Berryhill, Vinita. Berryhill's resume this season isn't overly impressive, but the Chiefs hung tough in a loss to 3A No. 3 Verdigris recently, so they're obviously capable of a deep run. Vinita's road to the state tournament will be tough, considering a matchup with Victory Christian is upcoming in the regional semifinals. Central's road started out tough with a district tussle with Webster — an underrated club in this mix.

• Potential games to watch

- Victory Christian vs. Vinita (regional semifinals at Catoosa); Berryhill vs. Central (regional finals at Webster); Victory Christian vs. Region II winner (area finals at Skiatook).

• State bound: Victory Christian (area champ); Central (area runner-up).



Area IV (Muskogee Civic Center)

• The favorite: Roland. The Rangers missed out on the 4A title game by four points last year. That has to be in the back of their minds as the postseason revves up.

• Other contenders: Fort Gibson, Muldrow. These two teams are in the same area field, so whoever wins the Region II final should be in good shape. Keep this in mind: that finals matchup will be played at Fort Gibson.

• Potential games to watch

- Roland vs. Locust Grove (regionals finals at Henryetta); Fort Gibson vs. Muldrow (regional finals at Fort Gibson); Roland vs. Region II winner (area finals at Muskogee Civic Center).

• State bound: Roland (area champ); Fort Gibson (area runner-up).



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Class 4A girls

Area I (Yukon)

• The favorite: Weatherford. The Eagles entered the playoffs losing two of three games, but that's not likely to keep them from the state tournament.

• Other contenders: Mount Saint Mary, Heritage Hall. The Rockets and Chargers split a pair of regular-season games, with Mount Saint Mary winning the final one on Feb. 5.

• Potential games to watch

- Classen SAS vs. Weatherford (regional semifinals at Weatherford); Bethany vs. Heritage Hall (regional semifinals at Heritage Hall); Weatherford vs. Region II winner (area finals at Yukon).

• State bound: Weatherford (area champ); Mount Saint Mary (area runner-up).



Area II (Chickasha)

• The favorite: Anadarko. The 2012 state champs' only loss this season was to 6A No. 1 Edmond Santa Fe in December. Since then, the Warriors have dominated, and the playoffs shouldn't be a different story.

• Other contenders: Harrah, Ada. The Cougars beat Harrah, 44-42, before the playoffs started, so advantage, Ada.

• Potential games to watch

- Ada vs. Harrah (regional finals at Newcastle); Anadarko vs. Elgin (regional finals at Purcell).

• State bound: Anadarko (area champ); Ada (area runner-up).



Area III (Skiatook)

• The favorite: Cushing. The Tigers' lone loss this season was to 5A No. 2 East Central at the Tournament of Champions. Brad Crace's club, which features five senior starters, looks to a lock for the state tournament.

• Other contenders: Cascia Hall, Oologah, Vinita. Of the six ranked teams in the area, only two will head to Oklahoma City for the state tournament. With Cushing likely claiming one spot, the winner of the potential regional final between No. 9 Cascia Hall and No. 10 Oologah could be decent shape even with a loss to Cushing in the area finals.

• Potential games to watch

- Victory Christian vs. Vinita (regional semifinals at Catoosa); Cascia Hall vs. Oologah (regional finals at Webster); Cushing vs. Region II winner (area finals at Skiatook).

• State bound: Cushing (area champ); Oologah (area runner-up).



Area IV (Muskogee Civic Center)

• The favorite: Fort Gibson. Last year's state runner-up, led by Brooke Palmer, Savannah Gray and Jodi Glover, appear to be in good shape to return to Oklahoma City. As the only team sporting an unbeaten mark in 4A, Fort Gibson stands at 23-0 through district-tournament play.

• Other contenders: Byng, Roland, Muldrow. No. 6 Byng and No. 7 Roland have been rolling over opponents for more than a month now, and the two appear to be on a collision course in the Region I finals.

• Potential games to watch

- Byng vs. Roland (regional finals at Henryetta); Fort Gibson vs. Muldrow (regionals finals at Fort Gibson); Region I winner vs. Region II winner (area finals at Muskogee Civic Center).

• State bound: Fort Gibson (area champ); Byng (area runner-up).