Tahlequah Daily Press

February 20, 2013

Class 2A/3A basketball playoff previews

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— Class 2A boys

Area III (Claremore)

• The favorite: Northeast. Yet, the No. 1 Vikings have six losses. However, those have come against teams in 4A through 6A, most notably 4A No. 1 Douglass 6A No. 2 Edmond Memorial.

• Other contenders: Ketchum and Tonkawa. Ketchum is still waiting for a team to challenge it this season. The Warriors appear to charging hard toward a state-tournament invitation.

• Potential games to watch

- Tonkawa vs. Ketchum (regional finals at Rogers); Northeast vs. Region II winner (area finals at Claremore)

• State bound: Northeast (area champ); Ketchum (area runner-up).



Area I (Chisholm Trail Expo in Enid)

• The favorite: Merritt. The Oilers haven't exactly played a difficult schedule, but 24 wins vs. zero losses is still impressive.

• Other contenders: Pawnee, Alva, Hooker. All sport solid records, but it's Pawnee that is no stranger to the state tournament, winning a state title as recently as 2010.

• Potential games to watch

- Alva vs. Pawnee (regional final at Chisholm); Merritt vs. Thomas (regional final at Heritage Hall); Region I winner vs. Region II winner (area final at Chisholm Trial Expo).

• State bound: Merritt (area champ); Pawnee (area runner-up).



Area II (Anadarko)

• The favorite: Latta. A week ago, No. 7 Dale might of been in this spot. However, Dale lost in districts and a team that loses in district play instantly becomes a long shot to make the state tournament. That said, Latta stands to be the beneficiary of Dale's shortcomings.

• Other contenders: Hinton, Fairview, Konawa. The regional finals could make or break teams in this area. An upset of Dale could be the kind of boost that Konawa needs moving forward.

• Potential games to watch

- Fairview vs. Latta (regional finals at Minco); Konawa vs. Hinton (regional finals at Rush Springs).

• State bound: Latta (area champs); Hinton (area runner-up).



Area IV (Wilburton)

• The favorite: Haworth. The Lions were last year's 2A runner-up and a return trip to the state tournament seems highly probable.

• Other contenders: Rattan, Wewoka, Oktaha. Judging by opponents played, Rattan seems to have the inside track to the state tournament. The Rams have played quality competition while Wewoka and Oktaha have navigated through soft schedules.

• Potential games to watch

- Wewoka vs. Oktaha (regional final at Talihina); Rattan vs. Haworth (regional final at Crowder).

• State bound: Haworth (area champ); Rattan (area runner-up).





Class 2A girls

Area III (Claremore)

• The favorite: Northeast. Hands down, the Vikings are the best team in the area. And it's pretty easy to assume that Northeast is fueled by a two-point loss in the 2A title game last season.

• Other contenders: Tonkawa, Ketchum. These two are in the same region, and if both make it to the regional finals, whomever wins the matchup will have the upper hand in reaching the state tournament.

• Potential games to watch

- Northeast vs. Quapaw (regional finals at Mounds); Tonkawa vs. Ketchum (regional finals at Rogers); area consolation title game.

• State bound: Northeast (area champ); Ketchum (area runner-up).



Area I (Chisholm Trail Expo in Enid)

• The favorite: Alva. This area is wide open, and No. 4 Alva is the team to beat only because it beat No. 5 Ripley in December.

• Other contenders: Mooreland, Ripley, Thomas. Any one of these three could be the area favorite. Ripley has only one loss and has played well, but Mooreland and Thomas aren't far off that pace.

• Potential games to watch

- Mooreland vs. Alva (regional final at Chisholm); Ripley vs. Thomas (regional final at Heritage Hall); any area tournament game.

• State bound: Ripley (area champ); Thomas (area runner-up).



Area II (Anadarko)

• The favorite: Fairview. The reigning 2A champ didn't exactly get a rosy path back to the state tournament. The No. 3-ranked Yellowjackets — whose three losses have all come against Alva this season — got stuck with No. 2 Dale, No. 11 Cordell and No. 13 Amber-Pocasset. But winning a title a year ago has to mean something, and until someone knocks off Fairview, it will be the team everyone is chasing.

• Other contenders: Dale, Cordell, Amber-Pocasset. Only five losses among the three teams. When a club like Amber-Pocasset is ranked 13th, that explains the depth in 2A this season.

• Potential games to watch

- Fairview vs. Cordell (regional final at Minco); Dale vs. Amber-Pocasset (regional finale at Rush Springs).

• State bound: Dale (area champ); Fairview (area runner-up).



Area IV (Wilburton)

• The favorite: Oktaha. Basically a coin flip, the Tigers get the nod here only because they made the state tournament last year.

• Other contenders: Preston, Colbert, Savanna. The results of this area could depend upon the play of freshman Chelsea Dungee of Preston. The Oklahoma commit could put Preston on her shoulders and carry it to the state tournament.

• Potential games to watch

- Savanna vs. Oktaha (regional final at Talihina); Preston vs. Colbert (regional final at Crowder); Region I winner vs. Region II winner (area final at Wilburton).

• State bound: Colbert (area champ); Preston (area runner-up).





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Class 3A boys

Area I (Sand Springs)

• The favorite: Oklahoma Centennial. Back-to-back 3A championships at Oklahoma Centennial says it all. The Bison are loaded again this year. A 16-7 record could be a little misleading for the Bison since four losses have come against Texas teams while the other three have come against top-five teams here in Oklahoma.

• Other contenders: Sequoyah, Henryetta, OCS, Beggs. A hodgepodge of teams from all over the state are lumped together in this area. Sequoyah is trying to make it back to the state tournament for the first time time 2010, while Oklahoma Christian School is looking for its first return trip since 2009.

• Potential games to watch

- Centennial vs. OCS (regional final at Perkins-Tryon); Sequoyah vs. Henryetta (regional final at Okmulgee); any area tournament games (Sand Springs).

• State bound: Centennial (area champ); OCS (area runner-up).



Area III (Fort Gibson)

• The favorite: Verdigris. Randy Upshaw-coached teams are always tough to beat this time of year. The Cardinals didn't make the state tournament last year, but look for that to chance this season.

• Other contenders: Sperry, Keys, Kansas. Look for Casey Cole (Sperry), Trevor Eubanks (Keys) and Cole Kendrick (Kansas) to take over during the playoffs. It's likely that the best performer of this group will lead his team to Oklahoma City.

• Potential games to watch

- Sperry vs. Keys (regional final at Adair); Verdigris vs. Kansas (regional final at Muskogee Civic Center).

• State bound: Verdigris (area champ); Sperry (area runner-up).



Area II (Purcell)

• The favorite: Millwood. Most years, the Falcons are sporting a losing record when the playoffs roll around after enduring a murderous schedule. Not this year, though. Millwood is 14-9 and charging hard toward the state tournament.

• Other contenders: Stroud, Plainview. The two are headed toward a clash in the regional finals. The winner, even if it loses to Millwood in the area finals, saves itself from playing an extra game during area play.

• Potential games to watch

- Plainview vs. Stroud (regional final at Washington); Millwood vs. Region II winner (area final at Purcell).

• State bound: Millwood (area champ); Plainview (area runner-up).



Area IV (Byng)

• The favorite: Okemah. The Panthers have three losses this year, but two were against the OKC Storm — a homeschool team in Oklahoma City.

• Other contenders: Hugo, Spiro, Antlers. No stranger to the state tournament, Hugo is poised for another playoff run this year. Spiro and Antlers have flown under the radar and could make some noise.

• Potential games to watch

- Hugo vs. Spiro (regional finals at Antlers); Okemah vs. Region II winner (area final at Byng).

• State bound: Hugo (area champs); Okemah (area runner-up).





Class 3A girls

Area I (Sand Springs)

• The favorite: Perkins-Tryon. The Demons are one of three unbeaten teams in 3A, and they appear to be on a mission to the season's final weekend.

• Other contenders: Sequoyah, Beggs, Kellyville. Region II, which features, Sequoyah, Beggs, Henryetta and Lincoln Christian, could be the most difficult region in 3A. The winner will get a shot at Perkins, and at the very least not have to play in three area tournament games.

• Potential games to watch

- Perkins vs. Kellyville (regional final at Perkins); Beggs vs. Sequoyah (regional semifinals at Beggs); Region II finals (at Okmulgee).

• State bound: Perkins (area champ); Beggs (area runner-up).



Area III (Fort Gibson)

• The favorite: Adair. The Warriors have played a relatively cushy schedule, but any unbeaten run of 24 games is impressive.

• Other contenders: Verdigris, Eufaula, Kansas. Verdigris and Kansas joined Adair in the state tournament last season. There's plenty of big-game experience to go around in this area.

• Potential games to watch

- Adair vs. Eufaula (regional final at Adair); Verdigris vs. Kansas (regional final at Muskogee Civic Center).

• State bound: Verdigris (area champ); Adair (area runner-up).



Area II (Purcell)

• The favorite: Millwood. While the girls might not have built up the legacy that the boys have, Millwood is pretty dangerous no matter which gender is on the floor. The Falcons, last year's 3A champ, are well-tested heading into regional play.

• Other contenders: Plainview, Prague, Meeker, Lindsay. If Prague can emerge victorious out of Region II, it'd set up a rematch of last year's state title game in the area championship contest this season.

• Potential games to watch

- Millwood vs. Meeker (regional final at Lindsay); Plainview vs. Prague (regional final at Washington).

• State bound: Millwood (area champ); Plainview (area runner-up).



Area IV (Byng)

• The favorite: Sulphur. Things would have to go haywire for the Bulldogs not to win this area. The highest-ranked team still standing, outside of Sulphur, is No. 15 Wilburton.

• Other contenders: Hugo, Antlers, Wilburton. Thanks to Hugo knocking off No. 9 Tishomingo in district play, the second state-tournament spot from this area is wide open.

• Potential games to watch

- Sulphur vs. Lexington (regional semifinal at Lexington); Hugo vs. Wilburton-Antlers winner (regional final at Antlers).

• State bound: Sulphur (area champ); Hugo (area runner-up).