Sterling girls coach Rick Wilson is back in the state tournament once again.
Wilson, who has won seven state titles and has four runners-up, is in the state tournament for the 22nd time.
“It's really nice to be back,” Wilson said. “I've been away for one year and it seems like it's been a decade.”
The Lady Tigers are the ninth team Wilson has guided to the tournament, joining Apache, Carl Albert, Elgin, Elk City, Hydro-Eakly, Sand Springs, Seiling and Weatherford.
“You have to have really good kids and I've been lucky to land jobs like that,” Wilson said.
Wilson got started at Sterling late in the summer and didn't get to work with his team before fall sports started.
“I'd never seen them touch a basketball, shoot a basketball or pass a basketball until our first day of practice,” Wilson said. “So it took us awhile to get acquainted with everything but they've gotten better and better.”
Wilson used a six-player starting rotation that features a junior and three sophomores to go along with a pair of seniors.
Seven different players have led Sterling in scoring this season.
WEATHER HOLDING UP PRACTICES AT CHEYENNE
When Cheyenne/Reydon coach Brad Thrash woke up Monday morning he knew his plan for early practice was already ruined.
By 6 a.m. Monday, there was already too much snow on the ground to get the boys and girls players — Thrash coaches both teams — to the gym for practice. More than 10 inches fell on the town, leaving Tuesday and Wednesday practices in jeopardy as well.
So it's possible that neither team will get to practice between the area playoffs over the weekend and Thursday's first round of the Class A state tournaments.
“If not, we're just going to show up down there and play and not have any practice,” Thrash said. “It's not a good thing.
“I would say in our class it's the only one it affects. Everyone else is farther east and south, so they're not getting it as heavy as we are.”
Sophomore Kate Sander had a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocks in the area championship win over Okarche, though Cheyenne's offense is very balanced, with all five starters averaging between 6-10 points per game.
The boys team relies heavily on junior forward Braygan Lippencott, who is averaging 21.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
UNSELFISHNESS HAS OKARCHE BACK
Okarche girls coach Cherie Myers was glad her team didn't have to sit around for an extra 24 hours waiting to play its area consolation finals after a Saturday night loss to Cheyenne at the buzzer.
“Most definitely,” Myers said. “We were worried a bit about conditioning and that we were down after losing that one but they wanted to get right back out there.”
The Lady Warriors have been a fixture in the state tournament since Myers has been there but this team is quite a bit different, with three juniors and two sophomores making up the starting lineup.
As good as those young players have played, though, a big part of Okarche's success has been the way the role players on the bench have done what they needed to go to help the team.
“It's been the unselfish play of everybody as much as anything,” Myers said of why her young team has been so successful. “I don't sub a lot and that can cause a lot of problems but it hasn't. They've come out and worked hard and really developed that team chemistry and atmosphere that's allowed this team to be so successful.”
STERLING'S WOOLBRIGHT STRONG IN PLAYOFFS
For the season, Sterling guard Trevyn Woolbright is averaging 22.6 points per game, but that hardly reflects his postseason play.
In four playoff victories, the senior guard has scored 24, 37, 26 and 30 points, an average of 29.6 per game.
Woolbright also averages 4.7 assists per game, getting offensive help from the likes of Mickey Milam and Dillon White.
Milam averages 12.6 points and White adds 9.8, with both averaging better than nine rebounds per game.
FERGUSON COMING UP BIG FOR PC-HUNTER
Pond Creek-Hunter got a scare Friday when junior point guard Jade Jones, the Lady Panthers' leading scorer, went down with a knee injury in a 64-39 loss to Frontier.
Jones didn't have any ligaments torn in the knee and came back to play Saturday, though she aggravated the injury.
“She started off really well, then went down on a layup,” Pond Creek coach Tasha Diesselhorst said. “The rest of the time, she was just getting through. She was out there gritting her teeth through it but you could tell it bothered her.”
Jones is hopeful she'll be ready to go Thursday when the Lady Panthers open the Class A tournament against Cheyenne at 8:30 p.m. at Oklahoma City University.
With Jones limited, plenty of players came up big in a 55-51 win over Velma-Alma that sent Pond Creek-Hunter to the state tournament but none came up bigger than senior forward Carson Ferguson.
“She kind of carried us,” Diesselhorst said. “Even when she (Jones) came back in, Carson had one of her best games all year long.”
LAVERNE BOYS UP FOR CHALLENGE
Having qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2008, this will be a new experience for the Laverne players.
But Drew Miller's team has responded to adversity well throughout the postseason. That includes winning five straight games while facing elimination.
And it includes Sunday's 51-40 win over Okarche, a team with much more postseason experience seeking its fifth straight trip to the state tournament.
“It just took a monumental team effort,” Miller said of the win. “We knew a couple things we had to do — not turn the ball over, make free throws, play good defense — and we did those three things.”
Seth Overstreet and Trevor Harris lead the Tigers, each averaging 17 points per game.
MUSTANGS GET YOUTHFUL BOOST
Fort Cobb-Broxton's road to the Class A girls state tournament was far from easy.
The Mustangs lost to Chattanooga, 41-35, in the regional finals then had to win three consecutive games in the area tournament to make the state tournament.
Friday night against Allen, Fort Cobb-Broxton was down by seven with 2:30 remaining.
The Mustangs reeled off 10 consecutive points in a stretch that lasted about two minutes and pulled off a 34-31 win to stay alive.
“That was a pretty big deal,” Mustangs coach James Biddy said. “That was a gut-check point for us.”
Fort Cobb is doing it with a lineup different that Biddy envisioned before the season as the Mustangs lost a pair of starters to injury.
Two sophomores — Sydney DeVaughan and Mikayla Sebastian — led Fort Cobb in scoring and freshman Aimee Wetselline is averaging 10 points per game coming off the bench.
The Mustangs have experience, too, as three of the seniors were on the school's state tournament team three years ago.