Talihina enters the state basketball tournament unranked and overlooked.
“We were the No. 3 seed in our district,” Talihina coach Darian Dickson said.
The Golden Tigers have gone 13-2 in their last 15 games and knocked off two top-10 teams, Wewoka and Oktaha, in the regional tournament.
Talihina (19-10) defeated Preston, 62-50, in the area tournament finals to advance to the state tourney for the fifth time in six years.
Dickson, in his first year as the head boys' coach at Talihina, said the club has overachieved.
“We have shocked a lot of people in Le Flore County,” he said.
Talihina won the state championship two years ago led by Taggart Lockhart, who was the Most Valuable Player in the tournament.
His younger brother, Alan Lockhart, is a sophomore on this year's team and is averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Senior Clark Austin is the club's leading scorer, averaging 19.1 points per game.
CHOUTEAU KNOCKS OUT NO. 1 NORTHEAST
Chouteau is another unranked team that advanced to the state tournament in Class 2A boys.
The Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Northeast in the area consolation finals, 62-40, after losing to the Vikings the previous week in the regional finals.
Chouteau coach Travis Wheeler said the Wildcats were much better prepared for Northeast's press in the rematch.
“Anytime you are seeing No. 1, you can't simulate that kind of pressure in practice,” he said. “It wasn't an issue (in the rematch) because we were ready for it.”
Chouteau, which lost to Talihina in the state tournament quarterfinals two years ago, has four players averaging double figures in scoring.
“It's a different guy every night,” Wheeler said. “Some nights it's all four of them.”
Chouteau (19-8) has won 13 of its last 14 games.
KONAWA IGNITED BY RETURN OF POINT GUARD
Konawa has won eight in a row and 13 of its last 14 to advance to the state tournament for the first time in almost 20 years.
The Tigers have been bolstered by the return of 5-9 senior point guard Alex Yellowfish, who returned from a knee injury.
Yellowfish, who played just eight games last season because of a knee injury, hurt his other knee at a summer football camp. He returned to the Konawa lineup in late January.
“He is a good point guard,” Konawa coach Gordon Garner said. “He just makes us go.”