Tahlequah basketball storylines
- Can Tahlequah repeat last season’s success? The stars aligned for the Tahlequah girls to make a run at the state tournament last season. Most teams in the Metro Lakes Conference were inferior, and the biggest challenge prior to reaching the state tournament was a feisty Chickasha team that couldn’t match Tahlequah’s offensive output. This year, though, the Metro Lakes Conference competition is likely to improve, and Tahlequah is under new leadership with coach Johnny Dyson.
- How much will Randee O’Donnell’s absence hurt? O’Donnell had been a key offensive contributor every since her freshman season, but she will not play during her senior campaign after signing a softball letter of intent with Oklahoma State. Instead, she’ll be watching games, so the offensive absence will have to be addressed by Marisa Girdner, Whitney Wright and Lindsay Wade.
Key core back for Tigers this season
Tahlequah returns the key contributors from last year’s team that labored to an 8-16 season. Jake Vader, Kourt McMillan, Dalton Cunningham, David Dick and Will Carlile will all be back in orange and black.
However, it’s who is not going to join them that’s going to a key absence. Point guard Lain Wright graduated and will have to turn the reigns over to someone else.
“You don’t really replace Lain Wright,” said Pat Dotson, who is set to begin his first year as the Tigers’ coach. “He was a pretty special player that you don’t see every year.”
Luckily for Dotson, he said he has plenty of qualified candidates.
“The position is a key fill for our line up and fortunately we have a number of possibilities,” he said. “Presently Damon Proctor, Colby Presley, Will Carlile and Clint Kelley are in the hunt. Good competitive position group that is beginning to settle out.”
Hoping to take some of the scoring pressure off the point guard spot will be Vader and Cunningham. Although, Carlile could provide some scoring of his own as the floor general.
“Vader has been out front since May, exhibiting good maturity and leadership,” Dotson said. “Two guys who can change a season are Dalton and Will. A very efficient pair of returning starters who are getting into good early season form.”
Dotson also tossed out some names of sophomores that could log meaningful minutes during the 2013-2014 campaign, which begins Dec. 3 at Coweta.
“The sophomores are a very competitive group coming off an excellent offseason,” Dotson said. “There are a number of individuals in the class who could impact the varsity season as they continue to develop. Alex Paris, Dante McDowell and Keith Washington have already been giving good minutes off the bench. Coleman Craig, Britt Dobbins, Tyler Miller and Kris Washington are hard-working guys who just keep improving. It’s a good class.”