Pond Creek-Hunter’s coach didn’t look the part.
Most girls teams in the small-school state tournament are led by men. Veteran men who know how to teach and motivate high school girls to play smart and efficient basketball. Tasha Diesselhorst is neither veteran nor man.
But the 29-year-old is a state finalist. Diesselhorst’s Pond Creek-Hunter squad beat No. 1-ranked Cheyenne 48-35 Friday in the Class A state semifinals. The Lady Panthers won it with precision and poise. Only 10 turnovers. Excellent ballhandling and sharp passing in the fourth quarter, to pull away. Diesselhorst won her duel with Cheyenne’s Brad Thrash, a five-time state champion.
Clearly, the Pond Creek girls have a good coach. Even better, they have a good role model.
“I love her,” said Pond Creek star Jada Jones, who tossed in 30 points. “She’s my best friend. I tell her everything. She hangs out with us, off the court, on the court. She does everything for us. She’s perfect for us.”
Nothing against the men who for generations have coached the girls in Western Oklahoma’s hamlets, but Diesselhorst would be perfect for most any school. Especially a small school. For whatever reason, most of the female coaches in Oklahoma have settled in bigger schools.
Of the 16 girls teams at state this week, only five are coached by women. And one of them is veteran Cherie Myers, the long-time Okarche coach.
“When I started coaching, there were five women coaching in the state,” Myers said. “I think it’s always important that you have quality coaches. And Tasha sure is a quality coach. Not anything against men coaching, I don’t want it to ever feel like I’m against men. I just like to see these young ladies that are such quality athletes and role models to step up and coach our girls. We’re blessed in the state of Oklahoma to have a great mix of men and women coaches.”
Seven years ago, Pond Creek superintendent Joel Quinn went looking for a girls coach. He decided he wanted a female. “A role model for the girls,” Quinn said.
Mission accomplished. Diesselhorst was just getting out of Oklahoma Christian University, where she had been a star. Diesselhorst graduated from Medford High School, just up the road from Pond Creek, playing for her father, 34-year small-school coach Randy Turney. Her grandfather is Bob Kramer, the football coaching legend from Balko in the Panhandle. Diesselhorst’s younger sister, Tana Turney, is the coach at Kremlin-Hillsdale. The sisters were opposing coaches in the district tournament title game three weeks ago.