After winning the Class A girls state basketball championship last year and returning all five starters this season, Okarche has been the heavy favorite to win Class B this time around.
No. 2-ranked Red Oak, though, might present a challenge to that should the two meet Saturday in the championship game at the Big House.
“If we can take care of business and do our job, I feel pretty good that we can play with them,” Red Oak coach Casey Butcher said. “Obviously, they’re the favorite, but we’ve been battle tested. Our schedule may be one of the best schedules in Class B, in my opinion.”
The Eagles (26-2) have lost to Class 5A Tulsa East Central and Class 2A Preston this season, teams featuring athleticism Butcher said he doesn’t expect to see this week.
Red Oak is making its fifth straight appearance in the tournament, this time led by guards Baylee Evans and Brittany Ward.
The Eagles open Thursday at Southern Nazarene University against Hammon at 8:30 p.m. in a redemption game. Hammon beat Red Oak in the 2012 semifinals.
GUARDS CARRY ERICK BACK TO TOURNAMENT
No. 4 Erick is looking to become the first school to win back-to-back titles since Lomega in 2007-08.
And the key relies in the play of its three guards.
The Bearcats (25-3) return senior Shyli May, junior Makenzie Kelly and sophomore Makenzie Janz from last year’s team, and they have been impressive this season.