YUKON — In a tournament filled with teams representing communities in all parts of the state, Southwest Covenant stands to draw one regular question.
Where are those guys from?
The tiny private school, with an average daily attendance of 73 students, sits about half a mile from the monstrous new Yukon High School campus.
Part of the OSSAA for less than a decade, Southwest Covenant will make its first appearance in the Class B state basketball tournament when it faces Arnett at 7 p.m. Thursday at Carl Albert.
And if you’ve never heard of the Patriots, they’re OK with that. In fact, they’re used to it.
“People aren’t talking about Southwest Covenant,” said 6-foot-4 junior Josh McMinn. “We weren’t ranked all year, even though we thought we should be. We just had to keep working to prove ourselves.”
The Patriots (16-5) earned a spot in the Class B rankings, at No. 20, in the final poll of the regular season. And when the playoffs began, they really started to show themselves.
They defeated perennially strong Okarche in the district round, then knocked off three straight ranked teams — including No. 3 Lookeba-Sickles and No. 7 Whitesboro — to seal up a spot at state.
“I had some other coaches around the state giving me advice about enjoying the process with your team, stopping to smell the roses along the way,” coach Kevin Cobbs said. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re enjoying it, for sure.”
But make no mistake, the Patriots are set on winning some games, too — beginning with the defending champions from Arnett.
“We’ve never been this far, so it’s been a whole new experience for us,” said 6-foot-5 forward J. Brock Crockett-Beck. “We played some bigger schools this season and got beat, and we’ve been able to learn from that, and use that to be successful in our class.”
McMinn leads the way for the Patriots, averaging team-bests in points (22), rebounds (10) and assists (3.7). Point guard R.J. Harms adds 11 points and Crockett-Beck 10, to go with seven boards a game.
And all three are juniors, joined in the starting lineup by seniors Kolby Betts and Braden Brown.
“This has been a neat process for all of us, but especially being a part of it with our seniors, being the first ones to do this in school history,” Harms said. “Most of our school comes out and cheers for us.
“We’re really motivated, because other people don’t know what we can do.”