• Darkhorse: Claremore.
Claremore proved me wrong last season. The Lady Zebras had few things going for them other than Miranda Taylor and coach Mark Campbell. Both of those were good enough to bump Claremore all the way into the Class 5A state tournament.
Campbell certainly deserves a tip of the cap for that one.
This year, both Campbell and Taylor are gone, making it an already unbearable uphill climb at Claremore.
Yet, there is enough in place with Kaleigh Cox, Anna McGuire and Monica Taylor and new coach Stephanie Shaw that Claremore could have a puncher’s chance at the league crown, if all the chips fall into the right place.
A one-point win over Bishop Kelley on Friday was a start in the right direction.
• Long shots: Pryor, Skiatook and Coweta.
Pryor could evolve into a darkhorse, but a 1-4 record before a win over hapless Skiatook last Friday is not a good sign. And a 5A team finishing seventh in the Inola tournament — a field littered with schools all smaller than Pryor — is exactly a shot in the arm.
Coweta has typically been strong in the past, but Jenni Bryan isn’t walking through that door this season. This is a club that struggled to move the ball up the floor while being full-court pressed by Tahlequah on Saturday night.
And at Skiatook, if coach Tatum Beer — a former standout at Sapulpa and at the University of Tulsa — isn’t suiting up then the Lady Bulldogs have virtually no offensive threats. Correy Moyer moving to Verdigris in the offseason didn’t help, either.
Gentlemen, you’re up.
• Favorites: Bishop Kelley, Coweta.
There’s no denying it: it’s a two-horse race to the league title on the boys side. And it’s no coincidence they’re the only ranked teams in the conference.
The quartet of Ty Gunter, Zach Norris, Caleb Norris and Austin Swboni make Coweta a legitimate threat to challenge the Tulsa schools for spots in the 5A state tournament.
Matt Craig, J.D. Limes, Josh Limes and Daniel Smith give Bishop Kelley a foursome of its own that makes it quite formidable.
However, at this point in the season, I’d lead toward Coweta snagging the league bragging rights.